The deadlock in the Karnataka Assembly continued on Friday as the House failed to hold a trust vote by Governor Vajubhai Vala’s 1.30 pm deadline. The governor then wrote to a new letter to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, asking him to hold the floor test before 6 pm, ANI reported. The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition headed by must win the floor test to remain in power.
The governor had issued the Assembly the first ultimatum on Thursday evening. However, coalition legislators on Friday questioned Vala’s power to issue such a direction and accused him of partisanship. Kumaraswamy quoted a Supreme Court judgement that said the governor cannot act as the legislature’s ombudsman. However, the chief minister said he would not criticise the governor, and instead asked Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide whether Vala can set a deadline. But Kumar said Kumaraswamy had to decide on the governor’s order, ANI reported.
When the deadline ended, Bharatiya Janata Party state chief BS Yeddyurappa stood up and pressed for division on the vote of confidence moved by Kumaraswamy. But the Speaker said the motion could be put to vote after the discussion was over.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the discussion was still not complete and 20 members were yet to participate, ANI reported. He said the debate might continue on Monday.
Congress MLA Krishna Byre Gowda said the governor gave the BJP 15 days to prove a majority in May 2018 but gave the ruling coalition just 15 hours to prove its strength in the Assembly. “If this doesn’t smack of conspiracy what does?” he asked. Other Congress MLAs, meanwhile, chanted “go back governor!” in the House.
Gowda also alleged that the BJP was indulging in horse-trading. “In your [BJP] greed for power you are destroying the Constitution,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Kumaraswamy alleged that the BJP had offered Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore to lure away the coalition’s legislators. He also said the BJP had its own hotel to hold the MLAs. “We know how they MLAs resigned, please take them and form your government,” he added. He also wondered how long the legislators would stay in Mumbai.
Janata Dal (Secular) MLA Srinivas Gowda accused the BJP of offering him money to join the party. The Speaker said the BJP should file a case against Srinivas Gowda if the claims were false. Yeddyurappa told reporters that the party would file a breach of privilege motion against the the Janata Dal (Secular) leader.
On Thursday, BJP legislators had stayed in the Assembly all night in protest against the Speaker’s decision to not hold a floor test. The ruling coalition’s strength in the 225-member Assembly is 118, including the disgruntled legislators. With the support of two Independent legislators, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs.
As many as 16 MLAs have resigned from the Assembly, bringing the coalition’s effective strength down to 102. However, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has not yet accepted the resignations.