Karna crisis: Guv steps in, Speaker reserves order on disqualification

Karna crisis: Guv steps in, Speaker reserves order on disqualification Bangalore/Chennai: Embattled Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa today faced a herculean task to survive tomorrow's trust vote with the 11 rebel BJP MLAs getting a reprieve from the Speaker who was also asked by the Governor not to disqualify them before floor test in assembly.

With the numbers game becoming critical to survive, the ruling party continues to be in a minority falling nine short of the magic mark of 113 if the 14 BJP rebels including the 11 who got show cause notices from the Speaker and five independents all of whom who have revolted against Yeddyurappa, do not relent.

In a House strength of 224, the BJP's strength has reduced from 117 to 103 including the Speaker and has the support of one Independent after 19 dissidents withdrew support to BJP's first government in the South on Tuesday reducing it to a minority. Congress has 73 MLAs and JDS 28.

The BJP rebels' strength remained at 14 though three of them deserted since an equal number from the ruling party joined them.

Already facing the heat of Kumaraswamy's machinations to dislodge its 28-month-old government, the BJP was unable to woo back their men with the 11 BJP dissidents holding their ground rallying behind the former chief minister. The rebels flew into Bangalore from Chennai this evening and were taken to an undisclosed location, according to sources.

Sacked Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar claimed that the dissident MLAs were all "united".

With the Karnataka crisis on a knife-edge, Governor H R Bhardwaj stepped in and opened another front when he directed Speaker K G Bopaiah to maintain status quo on the House strength as on October 6 before the rebels withdrew support reducing the Government to a minority.

Apparently going by the Governor's directive, the Speaker reserved orders on the petition by Yeddyurappa praying for disqualifying the 11 rebels from the Assembly on the charge of anti-party activities under the anti-defection law giving a reprieve to the dissidents.

Bopaiah, who heard counsels of the rebels and the Government for more than three hours, ruled that he has reserved his orders, Legislature sources said in Bangalore.

Bhardwaj in his letter to Bopaiah had directed him not to change the character or configuration of the house in the run up to the trust vote.

Kumaraswamy said in Chennai his party and Congress would work together to see the fall of the BJP government during the crucial trust vote.

Raj Bhavan sources said here that the Governor in his letter to the Speaker directed that the strength of the 224-member assembly which stood as on Oct 6 should be maintained and that all legislators should be allowed to take part in the confidence vote exercise.

The directive which effectively barred any action being taken against any MLA came as a dampener to the ruling BJP, which had been hoping to get a favourable order on disqualification of 11 rebel MLAs, against whom Yeddyurappa has filed a complaint under provisions of the anti-defection law after they withdrew support to his government.

Bhardwaj in his letter said in the interest of a free and fair floor test, no attempt should be made to change the character or configuration of the house after it has been summoned for the purpose.

"Any attempt to change the character or configuration of the house in the run up to the vote of confidence motion, is bound to vitiate the proceedings", he noted.

The Governor cautioned that "any result obtained by such a vitiative proceedings will not be acceptable".

The first ever BJP government in the South, tottering under revolt of the dissidents who have declared their intent to go against the trust vote tomorrow, had been toying with the idea of bringing down the effective strength of the house to ensure a smooth sailing for itself during the trust vote.

Bhardwaj, in a clear warning, said if there was any alteration in the numbers ignoring his directive, his decision would be final.

He said the process of Yeddyurappa seeking the trust vote tomorrow to prove his government's majority as per his direction should be held as per law.

Kumaraswamy, who is in Chennai to hold parleys with dissident BJP MLAs, told reporters, "Both JD(S) and Congress are in the opposition. We are together going to defeat BJP."