Bangalore: The crisis in Karnataka appeared to be snowballing into a major controversy on Monday after Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa announced that all BJP MLAs would sit on a dharna outside the Raj Bhavan against the Governor’s move to recommend the imposition of President`s rule in the state.
Governor HR Bhardwaj had yesterday abruptly recommended the imposition of President`s rule in Karnataka, in a “special report” sent to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The ruling BJP however described the Governor’s move "unconstitutional".
Yeddyurappa told reporters that the MLAs would sit on dharna beginning 12.00 noon. He added that the state Cabinet will also meet later in the day.
The Karnataka CM will also take his battle against the Governor to Delhi and meet the Prime Minister and President tomorrow.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has meanwhile received Bhardwaj’s report and is examining it, official sources said.
The ministry is looking into the details on what ground the Governor recommended imposition of President`s rule and keep the Assembly under suspended animation.
A note will be prepared and put before the Cabinet for a final decision, sources said, indicating that the Union Cabinet would meet soon to discuss the issue.
Fearing the worst, the BJP has also swung in to action at the national level and a meeting of NDA leaders has been called at senior party leader LK Advani’s house.
Yeddyurappa had yesterday shot off a letter to President Patil asserting "there is no constitutional crisis in the state". He also said that he "enjoys majority in the Assembly" and hence Patil should not accept Bhardwaj`s recommendations.
Bhardwaj has not made public the "special report" he says he has sent to Central government on the Karnataka developments following the Supreme Court restoring the membership of 16 rebel lawmakers on May 13.
Of the 16 legislators, 11 are from BJP and five are independents.
The rebellion in October last year had reduced Yeddyurappa ministry to a minority in the 225-member Assembly and Bhardwaj had ordered the chief minister to seek trust vote.
The 16 rebels were disqualified ahead of the October 11 trust vote which helped Yeddyurappa win it amid chaos in the Assembly.
Bhardwaj ordered another trust vote which Yeddyurappa won on October 14 with 106 votes in favour and 100 against.
Of the 11 BJP rebels who won back their membership, 10 again expressed their support to Yeddyurappa yesterday while the 11th refused to do so.
The 10 waited outside Raj Bhavan late on Sunday to hand over their individual support letters but Bhardwaj did not meet them.
He, however, met a group of ministers after which BJP spokesperson and former Central minister V Dhananjaya Kumar announced that Bhardwaj had "accepted" the support letters, indicating Yeddyurappa had survived the crisis.
However, the jubilation in the BJP camp was short-lived as the ruling party apprehended that Bhardwaj had quietly sought dismissal of the Yeddyurappa government and imposition of direct Central rule, keeping the Assembly in suspension.
It was Dhananjaya Kumar who told the media that Bhardwaj was possibly seeking dismissal of the Yeddyurappa government, within an hour of claiming that the Governor had "accepted" the support letters.
Following the apex court restoring the membership of the 16 rebels, Bhardwaj, an advocate and a former Central law minister, seems to have gone by the situation that existed after the 16 withdrew support to Yeddyurappa and before their disqualification.
But BJP`s contention is that Bhardwaj should go by the numbers the party has now and not on the basis of the situation that would have existed if the 16 rebels had not been disqualified.
The BJP says that with 10 of the 11 party rebels again extending support to Yeddyurappa, the party has 120 members, including the Speaker, in the 225-strong House that has one nominated member.
The party also has the support of one independent legislator.
It will now be a case of `over to legal experts` - to argue and advise President Patil for and against Bhardwaj`s action, in case he has sought dismissal of Yeddyurappa government.
Politically, however, the reported move of Bhardwaj would be a boon for the beleaguered Yeddyurappa.
The BJP, including the increasing number of dissidents in the party against him, will now have to rally behind Yeddyurappa in spite of charges of corruption and illegal land deals hurled at him.