The BS Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka ‘won’ the motion of confidence in the assembly by a voice vote after the Speaker disqualified 16 legislators — 11 dissident BJP MLAs and five Independents — amid unprecedented chaos in the House.
The Opposition Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress dubbed Speaker KG Bopaiah’s move, under provisions of the anti-defection law, as “a ploy to muzzle democracy”.
Governor HR Bhardwaj recommended President’s Rule in the state on the ground that the trust vote was “improper”.
It was touch and go for the BJP. The “disqualification” of 16 MLAs reduced the strength of the Karnataka assembly to 208 (from 224) and the majority mark to 105 (from 113). The BJP, which had 117 members before the present crisis broke out two weeks ago, had the support of 106 members after the dissidents were disqualified – one more than the majority mark.
The dissident MLAs challenged their disqualification in the Karnataka High Court, which adjourned the case till Tuesday.
The current crisis appears to have been sparked by the cabinet reshuffle in the state on September 22 when some BJP legislators, denied ministerial berths, rebelled against the party.
The five Independents — PM Narendraswamy, Shivaraj Thangadagi, Gulihatti Shekhar, Venkataramanappa and D Sudhakar — who were barred from entering the House, forced their way in, broke window panes and assaulted the House marshals, 16 of whom were injured, said Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar S Bidari, who was also roughed up. A case was registered against them.
Shekhar went to the extent of unbuttoning his shirt, climbing on to a desk and screaming slogans against the BJP as policemen entered the House.
Constitutional experts said they could not recall any occasion in the country when the police entered a legislature.
“This is the blackest day in Karnataka’s history,” Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah of the Congress said.
However, defending his move to hold the voice vote, Bopaiah said: “Nobody demanded (division). So, where is the question of division of votes? The motion was passed by voice vote.”
Launching a counter-attack, Yeddyurappa said he will order an inquiry to expose the “money power” used to lure the rebel MLAs. “I know from which source the money has come and how much money was distributed by each (source),” he said.
(with PTI inputs)