Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and Assembly Speaker K.G. Bopaiah are bracing themselves for a confrontation on the issue of 19 MLAs withdrawing support to the BJP government.
Bhardwaj asked the Speaker on Sunday to desist from disqualifying any rebel legislator and maintain the full strength of the House during the vote of confidence on Monday.
Bopaiah has described this as “interference” in his official functioning.
He was asked to maintain the status quo of the time when 19 MLAs — 14 BJP and five independents — withdrew support to the state government.
Bopaiah has replied to the Governor’s letter saying he would discharge his duties in accordance with the constitutional provisions. He also asked Bhardwaj to “maintain impartiality” while a fight was on between two rival parties.
The BJP attacked the governor’s letter, calling it an “unconstitutional move”. State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa demanded Bhardwaj’s resignation for allegedly favouring opposition parties during the crisis.
In a House of 224 members (including the Speaker), the BJP had 117 members before the trouble began.
Bopaiah on Friday issued showcause notice to 11 dissident BJP MLAs, asking them to explain why they withdrew support. Three BJP MLAs did not get notice because it was reported that they had backed down.
The notice was issued under the provisions of the anti-defection law. The legislators had been asked to reply to the Speaker in person before 5 pm on Sunday. However, the Speaker later reserved the verdict.
The governor’s move came after nine of the 11 rebel MLAs who got showcause notice had replied saying the move was unconstitutional and against the principles of natural justice.
They said they did not get the details of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s complaint, on the basis of which the notice had been issued.
The dissident MLAs, who were holed up in a hotel in Chennai, left for Bangalore on Sunday by a special flight. Accompanying them was former Karnataka CM H.D. Kumaraswamy, who sounded confident of dislodging the government.
The MLAs told presspersons in the hotel on Sunday that they had withdrawn support to the government and they had not been abducted from a Goa hotel as alleged by the BJP.