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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Karnataka trust vote debate to continue on Monday, announces Speaker; BJP calls it ‘gross injustice’

Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House after the treasury benches and the opposition failed to reach a consensus on setting a time frame for concluding the trust vote.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2019 21:15 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Benguluru
Karnataka Assembly Floor Test: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the assembly session at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Friday, July 19, 2019.
Karnataka Assembly Floor Test: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy speaks during the assembly session at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Friday, July 19, 2019. (PTI photo)

Karnataka Assembly has missed the second deadline for the HD Kumaraswamy government’s trust vote that Governor Vajubhai Vala had set for the ruling Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition. Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, who had earlier tried to build consensus in the house on the timing of the vote, called it a day and announced that the discussion would continue on Monday.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar however made it clear that the House will wind up the motion on Monday with a vote. The postponement left the coalition members jubilant and the BJP MLAs complaining.

For a brief moment on late Friday afternoon it appeared that the debate could be concluded on Friday itself after Speaker Ramesh Kumar said it was ‘not right to prolong’ the proceedings and proposed that the motion be put to vote later in the day.

“No, I have to face the world. There is no question of taking this till Tuesday,” he responded to a Congress MLA who was suggesting Tuesday to be a far more realistic deadline for the House to wrap up the trust vote proceedings.

The speaker’s call for urgency followed two days of unending discussions over the constitutionality of the Supreme Court order protecting the 15-rebel MLAs from their respective party whips and the Karnataka Governor’s letters setting two deadlines to conclude the trust vote.

Kumar asked the opposing sides, to freeze the number of speakers and time of voting, by consensus. It led to fervent pleas from coalition members to let the debate continue at least till Monday while the BJP said it was prepared to sit as long as was required to finish it on Friday .

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy pleaded that all speakers be given a chance. “Already members have said that it’s Friday and we’ve given you a list of speakers. Please reconvene on Monday and let’s finish it then,” he said.

Also read | ‘Protect me’: HD Kumaraswamy’s SOS to Karnataka Speaker after Governor’s ‘love letter’

He was supported by Congress’s MB Patil who said it was wrong to bind the trust vote to a deadline in the light of the precedence set by the 9-day-long floor test taken by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.

“I was an MP in 1998 when Vajpayee’s floor test lasted 9 days. Are there different rules now? There is precedence, please look at this and take a decision,” said Patil.

BJP’s Suresh Kumar said it was imperative to conclude the debate and the voting on Friday itself as per the declared business of the house, otherwise, he said, “it would cast a shadow over the sanctity of the exercise.”

The Speaker left at close to 7:30 pm leaving the conduct of the house to the deputy Speaker.

In ensuing debate, Congress’ Lakshmi Hebbalkar warned the BJP that it could very quickly lose power won with the rebels’ support. “I want to tell opposition leaders, even if you come to power; you will not stay for 6 months. How will people who betray their own parties, stay loyal to you?” She asked.

Congress MLA Narayana Rao made a similar point saying, “there are 100’s waiting in the BJP to stab BS Yeddyurappa in the back.”

Earlier Congress’s HK Patil had introduced a different concern into the discussions by demanding that the Speaker ordered security for the rebel MLAs staying in Mumbai and facilitated their return to Karnataka Assembly. This was necessary, he said, in order to restore the prestige of the House and to get to the bottom of the allegations of horse trading and pressured resignations.

The Speaker ruled out Patil’s request saying no MLA had written to him expressing such concerns and therefore it didn’t merit attention.

Earlier in the day, both the JD(S) and the Congress sought clarifications from the Supreme Court, claiming their right to issue whips to their MLAs had been infringed on by its interim order. Kumaraswamy in his petition, went a step further to contend that the Governor was interfering in the conduct of the trust vote and was dictating terms to the Assembly as a consequence of the apex court’s interference with the 10th Schedule of the Constitution which grants right to issue whip to the head of a political party.

Also read | Dosas, pillows and floor beds in BJP’s Karnataka assembly sleepover

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 21:08 IST