BENGALURU: The ongoing political drama in Karnataka took a new turn on Thursday evening after Chikkodi MLA and chief whip of the Congress-JSD coalition government Ganesh Hukkeri issued a whip asking all legislators of both the parties to attend the first day of Monsoon Session of Assembly on Friday in order to pass the finance bill.
Hukkeri said that several other matters will also be discussed on the floor of House on Friday and absent MLAs will have to face disqualification from the Assembly under the 'anti-defection law'. The Congress-JDS government, which came to power around 13 months ago, plunged into a serious crisis on Saturday following the resignation of over a dozen MLAs from the two parties.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader D K Shivakumar, who returned to Bengaluru on Wednesday after he was not allowed to meet the rebel MLAs who were staying at a hotel in Mumbai, said "good sense will prevail" and the rebel MLAs will support the government. "I have confidence that they will have good sense and not leave party from which they have been elected," said Shivakumar at Vidhana Soudha.
In a related development, the Supreme Court on Thursday morning directed the rebel MLAs to appear before the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly KR Ramesh Kumar at 6 pm on Thursday to submit their resignations. The order was passed by a bench headed by the Chief Justice after the rebel MLAs filed a plea before the apex court challenging the delay by Speaker in accepting their resignations.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar met rebel Congress MLAs on Thursday evening but said that he was in no hurry to accept the resignations. The Speaker said that wanted to be "satisfied" before accepting the resignation. "The legislators wrote their resignation in my office in the prescribed format and submitted to me personally. I will go through them and decide after I hear them personally," Kumar said at a press conference.
"I am answerable to the Constitution of India and people of Karnataka. As per the Constitution, if I am satisfied, then the resignations will be accepted," he said, making it clear that otherwise he will not accept those. I will communicate to the Supreme Court on Friday that I have acted upon the matter as per the law and in compliance with its order issued earlier in the day," he added.
It is interesting to note that the 16 MLAs - 13 of the Congress and 3 of the JDS - would have to follow the whip if they want to avoid anti-defection law till their resignation are accepted. If the MLAs violate the whip, they will have to face disciplinary action, including disqualification.
In the 225-member Assembly, the Congress has 79 MLAs, including Speaker, and JD-S has 37. Lone members of BSP and KPJP and an Independent are also supporting the Congress-JDS coalition, taking the total number of MLAs to 118, five more than the majority mark.
If the Speaker accepts all the 16 resignations, the effective strength of Karnataka Assembly will fall to 209 from 225 and the halfway mark would come down to 105. This scenario will be helpful for BJP because it has the support of 105 MLAs.