A day after the Supreme Court restored the membership of 16 rebel MLAs disqualified by the Karnataka assembly speaker last October, the stage was set on Saturday for a fresh round of acrimony between the state BJP government and governor HR Bhardwaj.
The governor, engaged in a bitter war with the BS Yeddyurappa government for the past two years, brought the battle to Delhi with a series of meetings with the UPA leadership, including the prime minister and home minister.
Yeddyurappa's attempt at damage control by convening an emergency assembly session from Monday in a bid to prove his majority appeared to have been derailed by Bhardwaj. The governor has so far not signed the order to convene the session, and indicated he is in no hurry to do so.
"I will go to Bangalore on Sunday and see what the state government has sent about the session. I am also studying the SC verdict, which appears to have put the speaker and chief minister in the dock," he said.
"The verdict is an eye-opener for those who mindlessly attacked the institution of the governor and attributed motives on my decision to declare the October 11 trust vote last year as vitiated," he added.
In the 225-member assembly, the BJP currently has 109 members and is claiming the support of one independent. The opposition Congress has 71 MLAs and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's Janata Dal (Secular) has 26.
Of the 16 MLAs whose memberships have been restored by the top court, 11 are BJP rebels and five independents. If and when the assembly session is convened, the fate of the government will be decided by these 16 MLAs.
The Yeddyurappa government has said the state cabinet decided to convene the emergency session to get the budget passed, but according to the Congress and JD(S), there is an ulterior motive.
Deve Gowda said the "timing of the session proves the BJP has malafide intentions of getting 15 opposition MLAs disqualified, based on the report of the Appachuchu Ranjan committee".
The committee was formed to study the conduct of lawmakers during the chaotic trust vote session on October 11 last year. It recommended action against the MLAs but speaker KG Bopaiah is yet to give his verdict.
The Congress leadership in Delhi said it was adopting a "wait and watch" policy "for the moment" but the JD(S) demanded the imposition of President's rule.
"The Yeddyurappa government is now a minority government and should go immediately," said party leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.