Opposition ups ante, Guv in Delhi, but K’taka govt ‘safe’
New Delhi, May 14
On his part, the Governor, undeterred by the BJP charge of political bias, appeared in a hurry to dismiss the Chief Minister and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek clearance from the Central Government.
“I have been vindicated. The (SC) judgment was a stricture against the Speaker and the Chief Minister. I had told the Speaker not to disturb party positions. I will first hear what the Karnataka Government has to say (before taking a call),” said Bhardwaj told reporters after meeting the Prime Minister.
Karnataka Speaker had disqualified 16 dissident MLAs in October on the eve of a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition - Congress and JD-S - fearing their vote going against Yeddyurappa after they had made a representation against the CM to the Governor.
The MLAs, 11 from the BJP and five Independents, earlier supporting the Yeddyurappa government, challenged their disqualification in Karnataka High Court which upheld the Speaker’s decision. After this, they moved the Supreme Court which overturned the HC verdict.
The Congress and the JDS, meanwhile, upped the ante demanding dismissal of the Yeddyurappa government on the grounds that it has lost majority.
But BJP insiders mocked Congress, JD-S claims, insisting that the arithmetic in the Assembly favoured them. According to party sources, of the 16, 11 MLAs are from BJP and they have already met the party high command in Delhi seeking “reconciliation” with the Chief Minister. The five Independents are not likely to pose any major trouble as the BJP yesterday managed to win all three Assembly bypoll seats. Additionally, in the last floor test, two MLAs from the Congress and one from the JD-S had voted for the government.
The rebels, too, are aware that the arithmetic does not favour them so they are ready to call a truce and the party high command is actively working to bring about a rapprochement between them and the Chief Minister. There were also indications that some of them may even be re-accommodated in the government.
Realising this, the Opposition in Karnataka is parroting Bhardwaj. JD-S general secretary Kunwar Danish Ali told The Tribune: “After the Supreme Court has passed strictures against the Chief Minister and the Speaker, the Yeddyurappa government has no moral right to continue in the office. This is a clear instance of breakdown of constitutional machinery. Unless this government is dismissed, Yeddyurappa will prove to be another Narendra Modi, winning all byelections.”
Cong to wait and watch
New Delhi, May 14
Moving cautiously, the Congress maintained that it would finalise its strategy only after it had studied the Supreme Court order in view of its larger implications. Party insiders said a preliminary reading of the apex court’s order showed it had put the clock back to suggest that the government was reduced to minority in 2010 as the disqualification of the MLAs, who had withdrawn support to the Yeddyurappa Government ahead of a crucial trust vote, was illegal.
Subsequently, however, Yeddyurappa shored up his position by getting the support of three Congress and Janata Dal (S) legislators and won a trust vote. He has further added to his numbers by winning three bypolls yesterday.
Congress leaders said this had thrown up several legal questions: If the situation stands frozen in time, then how are the subsequent developments in Karnataka to be viewed? If the Supreme Court is suggesting that the Yeddyurappa Government had lost its majority in 2010, should it be disqualified without a floor test? Does it mean that the government has been functioning without any legal basis? Or does the judgment now require the BJP Chief Minister to go in for a fresh trial of strength?
While the Congress has couched its response in legalese, the party has not lost sight of the political dimensions of the situation. There is a view in the Congress that it should not rush to dethrone Yeddyurappa as it would make him a martyr and result in unnecessary consolidation. As it is, the aggressive campaign launched against the Chief Minister on a series of corruption charges has failed to stick.
As of now, the Congress strategy is to match political wits with Yeddyurappa and discredit him by running an aggressive campaign.
Bangalore/New Delhi, May 14
Also, in what could be seen as more trouble ahead for the state government, Governor HR Bhardwaj appeared to suggest a trial of strength for the BJP government in the wake of the fresh apex court order. “The state has plunged into a constitutional crisis,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara and Congress Opposition leader in the Assembly Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bangalore.
They urged the Governor to recommend to the Centre to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution and dismiss the BJP government. The government has no moral right to continue in office as it had been reduced to a minority following the withdrawal of support by some BJP MLAs in a petition submitted to the Governor on October 6 last, the PCC chief said.
Siddaramaiah alleged that the state legislature session being planned from May 16 was with “political intent” and it was not aimed at debating development issues in the House. The Governor should not accept the government's request in summoning the legislature session from May 16, they said. JDS leader HD Revanna alleged that Yeddyurappa has launched “horse-trading” to woo 11 MLAs, whose Assembly membership was restored by a Supreme Court order. The JDS urged the Governor to dismiss the government and asked Bopaiah to quit.
However, BJP spokesman V Dhanajayakumar said: “There is no crisis in the BJP. All 11 MLAs are with us. Our strength has now swelled from 109 to 120. The Yeddyurappa government enjoys clear majority (in the 224 Assembly)”.
The 16 legislators, whose disqualification was set aside by the court, has been in touch with party leaders, he claimed. Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over commencement of the legislature session in the wake of the Governor not summoning the session so far.
Commenting on the SC order, Bhardwaj, who is in Delhi, said the judgment that reversed the HC verdict was an endorsement of his stand that a floor test should be taken on the respective strength of the Assembly. He said the apex court judgment was a stricture against the Speaker and the Chief Minister. “I had advised a floor test (in October). It should be taken on the respective strength of the party without bringing them down. They (BJP government) resorted to exactly the opposite," Bhardwaj said. — PTI