Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala has instructed asked Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to hold a trust vote on Thursday itself, ANI reported.
“The motion of confidence moved by the Chief Minister is under consideration today,” Kumar quoted from the governor’s message, according to The Hindu. “The Chief Minister must enjoy confidence of the House at all times. Hence I wish the vote of confidence be completed by the end of the day and this will be in the good tradition of democracy.”
The governor’s decision came after Bharatiya Janata Party leaders met and requested him to direct the Speaker to hold a floor test immediately. “Chief minister had fixed today for vote of confidence but when the motion was moved and debate started, Siddaramaiah, Krishna Byre Gowda and HK Patil moved point of orders,” BJP leader Jagadish Shettar said, according to ANI. “We have requested Governor to direct the Speaker to continue the debate on vote of confidence.”
The BJP said the coalition government had lost its majority. “According to Constitution any government that doesn’t have majority should step down,” a tweet posted on the party’s official Twitter handle said. “In Karnataka, Congress & JDS is holding on to power without majority. In their greed for power they have disrespected the Constitution of this nation.”
Sixteen disgruntled legislators have stepped down since July 1, plunging the state into a crisis. However, Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy made a U-turn on Wednesday, and said he would vote in favour of the government during the trust vote. The ruling coalition’s strength in the 225-member Assembly is 118. With the support of two Independent legislators, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs.
Earlier in the day, Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said the whip issued to Congress legislators may be allowed during the vote on the confidence motion in the Assembly, The News Minute reported. The Assembly is discussing a motion on trust vote to prove the coalition government’s majority.
If the Speaker allows whip to be applied, then rebel legislators can be disqualified for not attending the session, despite the Supreme Court’s interim order saying 15 rebel MLAs from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) cannot be forced to attend the Assembly proceedings.
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah argued in the Assembly on Thursday that the Supreme Court’s interim order was silent on the whip issued by the ruling parties. “It is indirectly curtailing my right under Tenth Schedule of Constitution, when we are not even party to the petition,” he said, according to The Hindu.
The former chief minister moved a point of order in the Assembly, saying that since he is not a respondent to the Supreme Court petition he can issue a whip to Congress MLAs, according to The News Minute.
Kumar accepted Siddaramaiah’s contention and said that whip will apply. “You can either implead before the Supreme Court or not, it’s left you,” he said. “You are at liberty to act as per your rights under Tenth Schedule. The House will in no way infringe on your rights.”
Kumar later clarified that he had not made a decision on Siddaramaiah’s point of order. “My difficulty is, they [Congress] are are not a respondent, but I am,” he said, according to The News Minute. I’m worried. I’m asking you to guide me.”
The Congress is hoping that at least three of its MLAs will take back their resignation with the threat of disqualification.
Siddaramaiah also urged the Speaker to defer the trust vote till there was clarity on the Supreme Court order. “Till we get clarification on Supreme Court’s previous order, it is not appropriate to take floor test in this session which is against the Constitution,” ANI quoted him as saying.