The Congress on Wednesday criticised former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s statement that the party’s name is synonymous to “horse-trading”, and asked why he did not question its morality earlier when they were in an alliance in the state.
Kumaraswamy on Tuesday had criticised the Congress over the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan and said the party was an expert in dividing political allegiances and “purchasing legislators”, according to The Hindu. “In fact, the term ‘horse trading’ in politics came to be used because of the Congress,” he had said.
Kumaraswamy’s remark had come in the light of the Congress’ “Save Democracy’’ campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party for allegedly trying to “topple a democratically elected government” in Rajasthan.
“Is luring MLAs of the party which supported them, through political shenanigans and merging the party with them, a democratic behaviour?” Kumaraswamy asked, referring to six former Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs’ announcement that they will merge with the Congress. “Haven’t they [Congress] lured all BSP MLAs who supported the Congress to form government in Rajasthan? Is this not a buyout?”
The Congress, however, rebutted the allegations and reminded Kumaraswamy about their erstwhile coalition government in Karnataka. “Was Kumaraswamy himself so innocent to know the difference between the other party legislators joining the ruling party and abusing the constitutional institutions and dismantling the elected government through Operation Lotus?” the state unit of the party tweeted.
The ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka had collapsed last year after they lost the floor test in the Assembly by six votes. The floor test was necessitated by the mass resignations of MLAs, who also abstained from voting in the floor test. After the coalition lost its majority, BS Yediyurappa took oath as the chief minister of a BJP government.
“When you had alliance with the Congress party and sat on the chair of the chief minister, did you feel that the morality of the Congress party is good?” the Congress added. “What is the moral of your party that is invisible while the state is in hardship?”
The Rajasthan crisis
The Congress government in Rajasthan has been on the brink of collapse ever since former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot rebelled against Gehlot and proceeded with a few MLAs to Delhi earlier this month. Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and as the Congress’ state unit chief on July 14. The next day, Assembly Speaker CP Joshi sent disqualification notices to Pilot and 18 other legislators.
The notices were served after the MLAs defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings to resolve the political crisis in the state. However, the MLAs said that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.
In filings before the Rajasthan High Court, the legislators sought to quash the notices, arguing that they had neither given up their membership of the House nor did their failure to attend two Congress meetings make them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection. They added that elected representatives of the people cannot be removed from their posts on the whims and fancies of their party’s leadership.
On July 24, Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs got partial relief from the High Court, which ordered Joshi to maintain the status quo on the disqualification notices. The court order put the disqualification procedure on hold till the Supreme Court passed its verdict on the Speaker’s plea. However, Joshi withdrew his plea in the top court asking for intervention, minutes before the hearing was supposed to begin.
The Congress has 107 MLAs in the Rajasthan Assembly – including the six Bahujan Samaj Party turncoats – following Pilot’s revolt. The majority mark in the 200-member House is 101.