Game set match: How parties are prepping for Monday’s trust vote
Bengaluru, July 21: With the fate of the H D Kumaraswamy-led wobbly coalition government in Karnataka likely to be decided on Monday, political parties are silently preparing their strategy and plan of action for the crucial floor test.
While hectic parleys continued in coalition circles with leaders of both the Congress and the JD(S) holding meetings, state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa too met party MLAs and held discussions on the plan of action when the assembly resumes on Monday.
The coalition leaders are also said to be making last ditch efforts to reach out to rebel legislators camped in Mumbai, whose resignations have pushed the government to the brink of collapse.
In a face-off with governor Vajubhai Vala, the JD(S)-Congress government has defied the two deadlines set by him to demonstrate its majority in the assembly on Friday itself, worsening the political logjam.
"Despite the Governor's directive to conclude the confidence motion process on Friday itself, unnecessarily time was wasted by allowing legislators to speak for hours. They don't have majority and are committing the sin of wasting time. What action governor will take, it is left to him," Yeddyurappa told reporters here on Saturday.
Claiming that the Congress-JD(S) coalition had just 98 legislators and BJP 106 MLAs, he said after having lost the majority, Kumaraswamy has no moral right to continue as CM.
"Prove majority if you have or else resign and go,this is our demand. Without resigning, they are wasting time. It seems that they are in an illusion about getting relief from the Supreme Court on Monday," he said, indicating about Congress and chief minister's petition to the apex court.
Kumaraswamy and the Congress have moved the apex court, accusing the governor of interfering with assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was on and sought clarification on its July 17 order causing hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
The court had held that the MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the assembly proceedings.
Meanwhile, rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs camping in Mumbai are firm on their stand about resignation and that there was no question of going back.
Amid all these, Kumaraswamy, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara and minister D K Shivakumar held discussions.
Ahead of Monday's vote of confidence Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah has convened the legislature party meeting on Sunday evening.
Speaking to reporters, Shivakumar said "we have said we will prove majority on Monday,we will do it ... we are confident that we will get the support. We are not buying any time. Wasn't Vajpayee given ten days during the trust vote?"
Reiterating his charge that coalition legislators were under confinement in Mumbai, he said, "I'm saying even today our MLAs are at gun point, their phones have been taken away from them, they are not allowed to speak to anybody."
He even said MLAs in Mumbai have been separated, with one group in Lonavala, and the others holed up elsewhere.
KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre alleged that "horse trading" was still on by BJP, who even tried to lure minister and Bidar North MLA Rahim Khan.
Meanwhile, discussions between JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda and senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy, who recently withdrew his resignation, led to speculations that some kind of backroom efforts were still on to woo back some legislators, in a last bid to save the government.
Describing it as a "casual visit", Reddy said at least three Bengaluru MLAs - Munirathna, S T Somashekar and Byrathi Basawaraj - were not currently in contact with him and he too had not been able to reach out to them.
Conceding that he had discussed about resignation with three MLAs, but withdrew it after party leaders requested him not to leave and withdraw it, Reddy said he tried to speak to Somashekar and inform him about the developments.
"I have been trying to contact them since Monday to inform them of my decision to withdraw, but could not. Finally I decided to withdraw ... though phone rang, they did not pick," he said,as he ruled out any offer by Gowda to make him deputy CM on getting back the rebel MLAs.
The three Congress MLAs from Bengaluru had called Reddy their leader when they resigned.
With the chief minister not following his directive, all eyes are now on governor Vajubhai Vala on his next course of action.
However, before adjourning the house towards the fag end of the day on Friday, Speaker Ramesh Kumar had made it clear that a finality would be put to the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy on Monday and the matter would not be prolonged under any circumstances,to which the government agreed.
Confirming that motion will be put to vote on Monday, state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said the trust vote would be put to vote after discussion on Monday and everything would be decided. There was no question of postponing it.
"We have committed in front of the Speaker and the House. People of the state will also need clarity, so it was us who moved the motion.
The Supreme Court order resulted in confusion over the whip and hence caused the delay," he said, but added that the governor's direction was not accordance with law.
As many as 16 MLAs - 13 from Congress and three from JD(S) - had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn support to the coalition government, putting the government on edge.
One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted, saying he would support the government.
The ruling combine's strength is 117 - Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the speaker.
With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House.
If the resignations of 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and 3 from JDS) are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalition's tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the government to a minority.
The coalition strength would fall further to 98 as claimed by Yeddyurappa, as two Congress MLAs are unlikely to attend due to health reasons, while BSP MLA Mahesh, is not showing up, amid reports he was keeping away as he has not received any directions from the party leader Mayawati on the stand to be taken on the trust vote.
BJP's strength is also likely to come down to 106, as Shankar, who has extended support to the saffron party, will not attend the session, according to sources, fearing poaching by Congress as Speaker has not accepted his request for his seating arrangement along with the opposition.