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Karnataka highlights: Amid tight security, Congress, JD(S) MLAs leave for Bengaluru in luxury buses

The Karnataka assembly will hold a special session on Saturday for a Supreme Court mandated floor test for the BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa. Here are the live updates:

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 19, 2018 10:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Karnataka,Karnataka floor test,Live updates
Congress MLAs assemble at a hotel in Hyderabad. MLAs of the both the parties left for Hyderabad late Friday night.(HT Photo)

The Karnataka legislative assembly will convene for a special session at 11 am on Saturday for a floor test that will decide the fate of the BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa after the Supreme Court on Friday gave him 24 hours to prove his majority.

Both Yeddyurappa and leader of the Congress legislature party Siddaramaiah said they were confident of their numbers on Saturday even as the appointment of BJP leader KG Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker sparked a fresh row that is headed to the Supreme Court again for a resolution.

The Congress and Janata Dal Secular , who had moved their legislators to Hyderabad, raised allegations that the BJP was offering inducements to change sides.

Here are the highlights:

11.49pm: Over 115 MLAs of the Congress and JD(S), along with their leaders, left in five luxury buses, accompanied by a large number of vehicles of Congress leaders of Telangana, IANS reports. Amid tight security, the long convoy left the two hotels after 10.30 pm.

Meanwhile, ANI reports that some MLAs are taking a flight from Hyderabad to Bengaluru with Kumaraswamy.

11.27pm: Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee has filed a complaint and demanded action against BJP’s Janardhan Reddy for offering hundreds of crore rupees and a minister portfolio to Raichur rural MLA Basvanagowda Daddal through telephone, reports ANI.

10.58pm: Congress MLAs leave for Bengaluru from Hyderabad’s Taj Krishna hotel.

10.50pm: Yeddyurappa, along with BJP MLAs, leaves Shangri-La Hotel in Bengaluru after meeting of legislature party.

10.31pm: Chief Justice Dipak Misra has listed the Congress’ plea before the three-judge bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri and also comprised of Justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhusha.

10.02pm: Supreme Court to hear Congress’ plea regarding the appointment of KG Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker tomorrow at 10:30am.

9.58pm: BJP legislator Preetham Gowda says, “I am in touch with the JD(S) MLAs so that they support BS Yeddyurappa ji tomorrow. Nobody can even dare to ask me to help them and nobody has dared to ask me as yet. Party is like my mother.”

9.41pm: JD(S) MLAs leave for Bengaluru from Hyderabad’s Novotel Hotel.

9.23pm: “JD(S) and Congress have jointly given a list of 118 MLAs to the governor. We’ve sufficient strength to form government in Karnataka. This morning Supreme Court has given judgement on the governor’s decision. For the past two days, BJP is trying to buy the MLAs of the opposition,” says Kumaraswamy.

9.17pm: HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) says, “Two MLAs have been hijacked by our BJP friends. But I am certain that they will come back to us.”

9.04pm: “Congress-JD(S) writ petition challenging the appointment of MLA KG Bopaiah as pro-tem Speaker has been filed in Supreme Court. The petition claims that the appointment of pro-tem speaker was completely unconstitutional,” says Dev Dutt Kamat, lawyer for the Congress.

8.55pm: In Bengaluru, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot alleges that the Raj Bhavan shut its doors and was not accepting the party’s complaint against Bopaiah’s appointment, reports PTI.

“Raj Bhavan has succumbed to pressure from the BJP and the Centre as it is not ready to accept our letter of protest,” he said, adding, “We have the mandate as all our MLAs are together and BJP will not be able to prove its majority.”

8.45pm: Siddaramaiah was unanimously elected as leader of the Congress legislature party at a meeting of the CLP in Hyderabad as per the directions of party president Rahul Gandhi, says Karnataka Congress.

8.31pm: Ghulam Nabi Azad says, “MLAs are with us. Whatever misuse they (BJP) had to do they have done. Supreme Court has also given them a good scolding, not verbally but in terms of action. It is a different matter that the people of BJP have a thick skin.”

8.20pm: The Congress-JD(S) combine has approached the Supreme Court challenging the governor’s decision to appoint KG Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker, reports PTI.

According to the news agency’s sources, the petition was placed before a registrar of the apex court but some defects were pointed out in the plea. “Some defects have been pointed out to us and we are curing those defects,” one of lawyers, associated with the development, said.

Lawyers representing Congress at the Registrar Office of Supreme Court, seeking an urgent hearing on the appointment of KG Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker of Karnataka assembly. (ANI/Twitter)

7.59pm: BJP responds to Congress’ bribery allegations. “This audio CD is one of the handiworks of Congress’ dirty tricks department. This is a fake CD,” says Prakash Javadekar.

7.55pm: HD Kumaraswamy reached Hyderabad and drove to Novotel to meet his party MLAs, reports IANS. The JD(S) leader held a meeting with party leaders and discussed the strategy for the floor test on Saturday. He later drove to Taj Krishna for a meeting with Congress leaders and MLAs.

7.51pm: “Of course they are with us, if the MLAs from Congress & JD(S) don’t support us, how can we prove majority? We will win the floor test 101%,” says Yeddyurappa.

7.45pm: Yeddyurappa says, “We are in Shangri-La hotel for the legislature meeting. We have the majority. More than what we expected. Our workers are really happy.”

7.43pm: JD(S)’ Saravana says Devanand Chavan, MLA from Nagathan, is still with them. “BJP leaders are misleading about him that he is supporting BJP,” he says.

7.14pm: Congress MLAs leave from Hotel Taj Krishna in Hyderabad, reports ANI. They will be travelling to Bengaluru for the floor test in the assembly tomorrow.

Congress MLAs leaving Hotel Taj Krishna in Hyderabad. (ANI/Twitter)

6.56pm: Congress releases audio clip of BJP’s Janardhana Reddy allegedly speaking to its MLA from Raichur Rural and making offers of money and a ministry post.

6.50pm: DMK has welcomed the Supreme Court directive to hold a floor test and demanded the removal of Governor Vajubhai Vala for his “mistake” in inviting the BJP to form government, reports PTI.

“Vala should immediately resign or Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi or President (Ram Nath Kovind) should remove him from the post,” DMK working president M K Stalin told reporters in Chennai.

6.26pm: Siddaramaiah has held a crucial meeting with Congress MLAs in Hyderabad to discuss the strategy to be adopted in the state assembly on Saturday when the BJP seeks a trust vote, reports PTI.

The senior leader drove to hotel Taj Krishna and began consultations with the party leaders. He is giving directions to the MLAs to ensure coordination to defeat the trust vote, PTI reports quoting Congress sources. The meeting was attended by all 76 MLAs of the party.

6.23pm: BJP MLAs to meet at 9 pm today at Shangri-La Hotel in Bengaluru.

6.18pm: Congress alleges BJP has “abducted” and “kept in wrongful confinement” Karnataka Congress MLA Anand Singh by using the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department against him, reports PTI.

“(BJP president) Amit Shah did the same kind of manipulation in all the states. They don’t know the Constitution and the law. They don’t know anything other than false propaganda,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after participating in a demonstration by Congress against the Karnataka governor.

6.10pm: JD(S) MLC Basavaraj tells PTI, “We are trying for flight tickets. If we get, we will fly. But getting tickets for flight appears to be difficult.”

6.03pm: UP Congress leaders, led by Raj Babbar, meet Governor Ram Naik to hand over a memorandum, protesting against Karnataka governor inviting BJP to form the government in the state.

5.54pm: “All the MLAs are here, we will be leaving for Bengaluru. We don’t have any meeting here. Siddaramaiah has come here, we will be leaving soon. We have 77 MLAs here. No pressure on us. It will be our government,” says Rajshekar Patil, Congress MLA in Hyderbad.

5.44pm: “As per the orders of the SC, tomorrow the members will take oath and there shall be a vote of confidence conducted by the pro-tem Speaker. The governor has no authority to use his discretion in appointing the pro-tem Speaker,” says Surjewala.

“Bopaiah has violated Constitutional norms and was issued orders by the Supreme Curt in 2011 and indictment was passed against him for his conduct as speaker,” he says.

5.42pm: At the press conference, Surjewala says, “We will be able to inform you in a short while. Yes, the option of going back to Court is open.”

5.37pm: Congress is likely to challenge Bopaiah’s appointment in court ahead of tomorrow’s vote of confidence, according to party sources, reports PTI.

5.29pm: “KG Bopaiah has a tainted history,” says Randeep Surjewala. “Bopaiah’s appointment as pro-tem Speaker violates constitutional traditions and parliamentary practice.”

Surjewala said that Modi, Shah and Vala cannot trample on the Constitution to favour “Yeddy Reddy gang”.

5.27pm: At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says, “The governor, Vajubhai Vala, has once again launched an encounter on the Constitution by appointing KG Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker instead of the senior most MLA.”

5.13pm: Siddaramiah arrives at Hotel Taj Krishna in Hyderabad to meet the Congress MLAs.

5.07pm: “Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are fossils of Hitler in this country. They don’t have respect for constitution or democracy,”Siddaramaiah said earlier today, quotes PTI.

“It is a murder of democracy. It is a clear violation of Constitution,” he said, on BJP being given 15 days by the governor to prove majority.

4.53pm: Siddaramaiah arrives in Hyderabad. He will be meeting Congress MLAs staying in Taj Krishna hotel, reports ANI.

4.45pm: BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje says, “There is nothing illegal about BK Bopaiah’s appointment. Congress is trying to delay proceedings.”

4.40pm: Governor Vala issues official notification summoning the Karnataka legislative assembly to meet in Bengaluru on Saturday, May 19, at 11am.

Read: Rules, ‘auspicious’ time set for Yeddyurappa govt’s floor test

4.35pm: Governor’s decision to invite S Yeddyurappa to form government shows that he is acting under the Modi-led central government’s pressure, Congress leader Ashok Chavan said. “Politics is taking place from the Raj Bhavan,” he said while addressing a ‘save democracy day’ protest near the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in Mumbai.

“The role of a governor should be neutral and unbiased but unfortunately, this is not the case in Karnataka,” he said.

4.22pm: Prakash Javadekar says, “KG Bopaiah was appointed as pro-tem speaker even in 2008 by the then governor. That time Bopaiah was 10 years younger than he is today. Congress is thus raising hoax objection. The appointment of Bopaiah ji is as per rules and regulations.”

3:33pm: What the BJP has done is against the rule book. Ideally, the senior most leader is supposed to hold that position: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress on BJP MLA KG Bopaiah being appointed as pro-tem speaker Karnataka.

3:47pm: Karnataka Governor appoints BJP MLA KG Bopaiah as pro-tem Speaker ahead of floor test tomorrow, reports ANI.

3:44pm: BJP MLAs arrive at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru to meet the Governor, reports ANI.

3:43pm: Pro-tem Speaker by convention always means the senior most MLA, irrespective of party. What BJP has done is not right, says Singhvi on BJP naming KG Bopaiah.

3:43pm: BJP needs to start worrying about how it will fill the gap from 104 to 112, says Singhvi.

3:41pm: Absurd that impeachment issue is being linked with this issue, says Singhvi.

3:38pm: The true face of the BJP is to create a government by hook or by crook, more by crook, says Singhvi.

3:35pm: Congress addresses a press conference. Party leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Sighvi says BJP wanted vote of confidence done via secret ballot, ANI reports.

3:26pm: Former Speaker and BJP leader KG Bopaiah named pro-tem Speaker.

3:20pm: JD(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu says party state president HD Kumaraswamy is back in Bengaluru, but 36 of their MLAs are in Hyderabad to prevent the BJP from poaching them. Kumarawamy, who contested and won from both Channapatna and Ramanagara, accounts for two assembly seats.

3:13pm: Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah says there are no break in ranks and that all party MLAs and the JD(S) will stick together. “We (Congress and JD-S)have an understanding. Despite this being reality, despite they (BJP) not asking for 15 days, the Governor has given them 15 days to prove majority. What inference could one draw?... Governor has followed Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s instructions. If he had followed constitution, he would not have taken such decision,” he said, PTI reported.

3:08pm: Karnataka assembly session to start at 11am on Saturday. BS Yeddyurappa has been advised by astrologers that this is an auspicious time for such a session. The pro-tem Speaker will be elected first, and MLAs will be sworn in.

3pm: BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra says Congress feared a repeat of Goa in Karnataka. “Fearing another Goa, Congress had drafted an SC plea for the largest party to be invited first. It seems they knew that Congress will be the single largest party and they had this doubt that BJP and JD(S) will come together to form the government,” says.

2:55pm: BJP calls all newly elected Karnataka MLAs for a meeting at its party office this evening, ahead of tomorrow’s floor test in the Assembly.

Read: Congress and RJD meet governors, want Karnataka model in Goa, Manipur and Bihar

2:30pm: Civil aviation ministry says it has sought a detailed report into JD(S) allegations of flight permits being denied for chartered planes. It adds that permission is not required for chartered flights operating within India.

2:27pm: Congress delegation in Manipur also stakes claim to form government in the state, spokesperson for party’s state unit Kh Jaikishan Singh says. Nine leaders of Congress Legislature Party (CLP), led by the Opposition Leader in Manipur Assembly and former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, met Acting Governor Jagdish Mukhi at Raj Bhavan around noon, Singh says.

2:15pm: Amid the ongoing tussle in Karnataka, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav meets Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik and stakes claim to form the government being the leader of the single largest party in the state Assembly.

The party has been protesting against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s move to invite BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa to form the government in that state despite falling short by eight seats to get a simple majority in the 224-member assembly.

1:42pm: Union minister Prakash Javdekar says the BJP is confident of a positive outcome on Saturday. “BJP is ready and confident of winning the trust vote In Karnataka. We will prove our majority on the floor of the House,” Javdekar says on Twitter.

1:38pm: Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented the Congress in the Supreme Court, says, “This is a historic interim order because the court has directed confidence motion within less than 36 hours.”

1:36pm: Congress delegation meets Manipur acting governor Jagdish Mukhi, stakes claim to form government in state.

“Let us wait till 4 pm tomorrow. What is the outcome on the floor of the Karnataka assembly. The Manipur Governor Jagdish Mukhi said that he will look into the matter. I hope he will do justice,” says Okram Ibobi Singh, Congress and former CM of Manipur.

1:26pm: Thirteen Congress MLAs hand over memorandum to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha saying Congress is the single largest party in the state.

1:19pm: “Yeddyurappa who has 104 MLAs including himself, in the letter requested for 7 days, he had no other name, yet Governor invited him. It was unconstitutional, Governor even gave him 15 days time,” says Siddaramaiah.

12:42pm: “Constitution wins, Democracy restored! BS Yeddyurappa does remain a 1 day CM - Constitution rejects an illegitimate CM as also the unconstitutional decision of Governor of Karnataka (sic),” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweets.

12:40pm: Congress seeks an appointment with President Ram Nath Kovind to appraise him of Karnataka Governor inviting the BJP to form government despite falling short of the majority, PTI reports quoting a party source.

12:30pm: Congress president Rahul Gandhi hails the Supreme Court order, says it vindicates the party. “Today’s Supreme Court order vindicates our stand that Governor Vala acted unconstitutionally. The BJP’s bluff that it will form the Govt., even without the numbers, has been called out by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money & muscle, to steal the mandate,” Gandhi tweets.

12:28pm: Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa says the party will obey the Supreme Court order on floor test, reports PTI. “We will prove majority tomorrow,” he adds.

12:21pm: “Will discuss with chief secretary. We are sending our file to Karnataka governor to call an assembly session at 11 am tomorrow. We are 100% confident that we will prove full majority,” says Yeddyurappa on Supreme Court’s order.

12:10pm: In Goa, 13 Congress MLAs reach Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Mridula Sinha. Coming on the heels of the Supreme Court decision for a floor test, the Congress aims to stake claim to form the government after it emerged as the single largest party in the 2017 election.

12:04pm: Congress lawyer Abhishek Manu Shinghvi informs press of Supreme Court’s order, calling it a “historic verdict”.

11:53am: Karnataka BJP general secretary Shobha Karandlaje says party welcomes the Supreme Court order. “We will prove majority on the floor of the House tomorrow, we are ready for floor test,” says Karandlaje, who is also a close aide of Karnataka CM Yeddyurappa.

11:48am: “Supreme Court verdict has upheld constitutional morality and democracy. It’s a judgement that should be celebrated. Faith of people in wisdom of SC is vindicated once again. It’s set back for a party that wanted to usurp power,” says lawyer Ashwani Kumar, who represented the Congress in court.

Read - Karnataka tussle: The new Congress is aggressive on statecraft, dismal on votecraft

11:44am: Supreme Court orders all newly-elected MLAs to take oath before the floor test at 4 pm. After administration of oath, pro-tem Speaker to be appointed. No secret ballot to be held for the floor test. The director general of police will personally ensure proper security for all legislators. CM Yeddyurappa to not take any decisions on policy.

11:40am: Supreme Court orders the floor test to be conducted according to rules of the House.

11:39am: Justice Sikri says court has to balance the equity. Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who filed a petition against Karnataka Governor’s decision to invite BJP to form the state government, says the Governor has not acted properly.

11:35pm: Supreme Court orders BS Yeddyurappa to take floor test in Karnataka Assembly on Saturday at 4pm.

11:32am: Order being dictated.

11:31am: Rohatgi asks for floor test on Monday, citing that Congress and JD(S) MLAs are outside the state. SC observes that the floor test could take place on Saturday afternoon.

11:29am: Mukul Rohatgi, lawyer representing the BJP, questions the need for an immediate floor test, and asks for reasonable time. Supreme Court says there are precedents to fix time limits.

11:28am: Congress-JD(S) asks that no Anglo-Indian community member be nominated as MLA before the floor test. SC asks Governor the same.

11:27am: Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal asks for appointment of an interim Speaker for the floor test.

11:23am: Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Karnataka government, says the Governor has not received a signed letter from the Congress-JD(S).

11:16am: In case of a floor test being conducted tomorrow, Singhvi seeks security for Congress-JD(S) MLAs. Supreme Court observes that it can pass an order to make proper security arrangements.

11:15am: Congress’ lawyer Singhvi demands a floor test be held in the Karnataka assembly tomorrow.

11:14am: Mukul Rohatgi claims BSY has majority. “Does he have letters of support from them or it is mere ipse dixit of oral submissions?” Singhvi counters.

11:11am: SC says it will either hear the matter and decide, or order for a floor test tomorrow itself. Singhvi argues how could the governor have called Yeddyurappa to form government.

11:09am: Justice Sikri says let there be a floor test and let the House decide. Question is who should enter the arena first.

11:08am: Singhvi says Yeddyurappa claimed to be single largest party even before Election Commission declared the election results.

11:07am: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Congress, says the SC must decide who should get the chance – Cong-JDS alliance or BJP.

11:03am: Justice AK Sikri observes the floor test tomorrow in the Karnataka assembly is an alternative. We don’t give time to anybody, he adds.

11am: Supreme Court says pre-poll alliance is different from a post-poll alliance.

10:58am: Not every MLA in Cong-JDS have signed the letter supporting the alliance, Rohatgi tells the court.

10:55am: Rohatgi tells the court that support will come from MLAs belonging to Congress-JDS. “I don’t want to say anything more at this stage,” he adds.

10:54am: SC wonders on what basis a Governor decides who can provide stable government – the single largest party or a written support of majority to Cong-JD(S).

10:53am: SC tells Rohatgi that on one hand he claims to be the single largest party with support, but at the same time the Cong-JD(S) have given support in writing to Governor.

10:52am: Rohatgi reads out May 15 letter saying in the absence of a pre-poll alliance, BJP can form government as a single largest party. May 16 letter is by Yeddyurappa, saying he has support of others and requisite majority.

10:51am: Counsel for BJP, Mukul Rohatgi hands over to the court letters from BS Yeddyurappa staking claim to form the Karnataka government. Rohatgi says Yeddyurappa has the necessary support and is ready to prove his majority on floor of House.

10:46am: Supreme Court hearing begins.

10:42am: BJP’s Sadananda Gowda confident of party winning case. “Certainly (BJP has the numbers), without that how can we form the govt?” he tells ANI. Commenting on the MLAs being taken to Hyderabad, he says, “It is their right no? They can take them anywhere, even to Pakistan.”

10:28am: Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi is representing the BJP in Supreme Court. “We’ll show CM’s (Yeddyurappa) letter to court. It shows he has support and support will be shown in the house. There is no issue of horse-trading, it is the other way as MLAs have been taken to resorts,” he says, adding the BJP has the numbers to prove majority.

10am: The BSE Sensex drifts lower by another 125 points in early trade today amid unabated foreign fund outflows and surging global crude oil prices. Investors are also keeping an eye on the political developments in Karnataka.

9:57am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes former prime minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda on his birthday. “Spoke to our former Prime Minister Shri HD Deve Gowda Ji and conveyed birthday wishes to him. I pray for his good health and long life,” Modi tweets. The message comes amid the ongoing battle between the BJP and the Congress-JD(S) combine over formation of the new Karnataka government.

9:53am: The MLAs travelled in buses run by Sharma Travels, which is owned by a Congress sympathiser.

9:46am: JD(S) and Congress MLAs reach Hyderabad. Sources tell HT that the legislators will stay at hotel Park Hyatt.

Congress’ Karnataka MP DK Suresh, says, “They (MLAs) are coming here, we are arranging everything here. We are waiting for them, in another 2 hours they will come, JD(S) and Congress both.”

8:10am: JD(S) minister in Kerala, MT Thomas, says he is going to Kurnool to meet the party lawmakers. “I’m definite they (party’s Karnataka MLAs) aren’t coming by flight, so I’m moving to Kurnool... I was expecting them yesterday but the Civil Aviation department didn’t give permission for the charter flight,” he says, according to ANI.

8:10am: JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has said his party MLAs along with the Congress will “stay united at same place” in order to prevent “horse-trading” ahead of the trust vote in the assembly.

8am: Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the junior home minister in the Narendra Modi government, says Congress president Rahul Gandhi “insulted the country” when he compared Karnataka political turmoil with Pakistan.

7:34am: Supreme Court bench scheduled to continue hearing Congress-JD(S) petition at 10:30am.

Read: How Congress laid groundwork for midnight Supreme Court hearing against Karnataka governor

7:30am: MLAs of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) who were staying at Shangri-La Hotel in Bengaluru are expected to stay in Hyderabad. Late night reports said the legislators changed buses on the highway to head to the Telangana capital city.

First Published: May 18, 2018 07:53 IST