Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj today indicated that he might ask chief minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly in the wake of 13 ruling BJP MLAs announcing their decision to quit the House membership.
"I have already summoned the assembly on February 4 (for Budget session) and if I feel that this government has come into minority, then I will order him (Shettar) to prove his majority at the first instance before transacting any business," Bhardwaj told reporters in Bangalore.
Seeking to push the government into a crisis, 13 MLAs loyal to Karnataka Janata Party chief BS Yeddyurappa had gone in a delegation on Wednesday to meet Speaker KG Bopaiah to submit their resignation from assembly membership but in vain as he was not in station.
Enraged over this, they had submitted copies of their resignation letters to Bhardwaj.
The governor said he has received letters (copies) from Yeddyurappa and also the MLAs.
Bhardwaj said the chief minister would "possibly" meet him today and "so I will confront him with what has been given to me (assembly records) and if necessary I will ask him to prove his majority."
"In the meantime, I have dictated my orders that this is a split in the political party of the BJP. So you study the relative strength of the party in the assembly. But assembly records were not with me. Therefore, I summoned the records. So I will see what is the strength.."
Bhardwaj said neither Shettar nor home minister and deputy chief minister R Ashok were in the city and he contacted them and told them about the developments and sought their response.
The governor said he is following the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai case.
"So this is the broad thinking in my mind and except this, I cannot talk to the Speaker. The Speaker is an independent office and he is not in town."
He said since the Speaker was not in town, he had not sent any communication to him. "I have sent (communication) to the government and told the chief minister to immediately contact the speaker and it is the duty of the government to transact business and government has to arrange for his presence."
Asked if there was a constitutional crisis and government should continue in office, he said, "There is constitutional law which applies straightaway that the governor has to send the matter to the floor of the House. I am thinking on that line."
In the 225-member assembly, BJP has a strength of 117 excluding speaker and it requires 113 for a simple majority. Congress has 71 members and JDS 26. There are seven Independents and two vacancies. One member is nominated.