Bengaluru, July 12 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday met the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Legislative Party leaders to discuss strategies for the opening day of the Monsoon session, which begins today.
The 10-day session is likely to stormy one, after a string of resignations by the Congress and JD-S legislators since July 6 plunged the 13-month-old coalition government into a crisis.
Meanwhile, the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) awaits the Supreme Court ruling on the rebel MLAs’ July 10 plea against Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh delaying acceptance of their resignations.
Despite the apex court urging him to decide on the resignations at the earliest, the Speaker on Thursday insisted that he would take a final call on the matter only after hearing all sides. Now a lot depends on the top court’s observations.
A three-member apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is scheduled to hear the Speaker’s request to the court to modify its July 11 order and give him more time to decide on the resignations of the seven Congress and three JD-S legislators re-submitted on Thursday evening as per its directive.
The 10 rebel legislators include Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavraju, B.C.Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, S.T. Somashekar, Prathapgouda Patil and Mahesh Kumatahali of the Congress and K. Gopalaiah, A.H. Vishwanath, K.C. Narayan Gowda of the JD(S).
Though the Monsoon session has been convened ostensibly to pass the Finance Bill (state budget) for this fiscal (2019-20) and other pending bills, discuss drought relief works and the impact of deficit monsoon rains, the Opposition BJP has sought a floor test claming that the fledgling government has almost lost majority in the Assembly after 16 rebel legislators of the ruling allies resigned and two Independents withdrew support to it.
As Speaker Ramesh has listed “obituary references” as the only business for the day, the House is likely to be adjourned till Monday after paying homage to all those political leaders, lawmakers and noted personalities who passed away since the Assembly met in February.
“In case the top court grants time till Monday for the Speaker to decide on the resignations, we will ask state Governor Vajubhai Vala to direct Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to take a floor test in the Assembly on Tuesday,” BJP’s spokesman G. Madhusudana told IANS here.
“As all the 13 Congress and 3 JD-S rebel legislators are unlikely to attend the session, it will be difficult for the government to pass the Finance Bill of the state budget for this fiscal (2019-20), which was presented for vote-on-account on February 8 as the government lacks majority,” said Madhusudana.
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy also holds the finance portfolio and the (finance bill) has to be passed within four months or by July 31, whichever is earlier.
However, with 16 rebel legislators of the ruling allies absent from the House ignoring a whip issued by their respective parties to attend the session and one KPJP lawmaker and one Independent withdrawing support to the government, its majority in the House has been reduced to 101 from 118 — excluding the Speaker and one nominated in the 225-member Assembly — against 105 of the BJP.
As the nominated member has no voting right, the BJP’s strength in the House will be 107 with the support of KPJP member R. Shankar and Independent H. Nagesh, who resigned as ministers but not as legislators on July 8.
“In the absence of the 16 rebels legislators, the government will not be able to pass the state budget in the Assembly, as we will press for division if it (finance bill) is put to voice vote. If the budget is not passed by the House, the fall of the government is imminent,” claimed Madhusudana.
The six remaining Congress rebel legislators, who resigned are Anand Singh, R. Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna, R. Roshan Baig, K. Sudhakar and state Housing Minister M.T.B. Nagaraj.
The Congress has petitioned the Speaker to disqualify nine of its rebels excluding Reddy, Sudhakar and Nagaraj, whom it is trying to pacify to withdraw their resignations.
The JD-S has also petitioned the Speaker to disqualify its 3 rebels MLAs who resigned and defied its whip to attend the Assembly session.