The five Independent MLAs of Karnataka who were disqualified from the Assembly for withdrawing support to the BJP state government will not be allowed to vote during the fresh motion of confidence Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is to seek on Thursday.
This was decided on Wednesday by the Karnataka High Court, which rejected the Independents’ petition seeking restoration of their voting rights during the trust vote.
The court also refused to stay the confidence motion but ruled that its outcome would be subject to the court’s final verdict on disqualification of the MLAs.
Legal experts were divided on whether the Speaker could declare the motion passed or would have to wait for the court’s final verdict. Also, there was no clarity on whether the disqualified MLAs would vote separately on the confidence motion or a fresh motion would be moved if the court decides to quash the disqualifications.
Speaker K.G. Bopaiah had disqualified 14 BJP and five Independent MLAs under the anti-defection law hours before the confidence motion was moved on Monday. The BJP government had won that trust vote by a voice vote, prompting Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to call it a “farce” and recommend President's Rule in the state.
On Tuesday, however, Bhardwaj asked Yeddyurappa to go in for another trust vote on Thursday to prove his majority in the House through division (counting) of votes.
In New Delhi, a BJP delegation comprising senior leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M. Venkaiah Naidu met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand the recall of Bhardwaj. "He (Bhardwaj) has converted Raj Bhawan into the epicentre of political conspiracy to encourage horse-trading and to destabilise the state government," the BJP memorandum to the PM said. (With HTC, Delhi)