Karnataka crisis| ‘I will think all night’: Speaker keeps the suspense on rebel MLAs resignations
The suspense over the fate of the Kumaraswamy government continues after Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar ruled out taking a decision on resignations of 11 rebel MLAs on Thursday despite a Supreme Court directive. Kumar said, he will “think it over all night” to see if they were voluntary. He was addressing the press after meeting the rebel MLAs in Bengaluru.
“Yes the MLAs came and they have given the resignations in the proper format. They asked if I will accept but I cannot do that. I have to think over this all night and take a decision and see if this is voluntary and genuine,” he said.
The Speaker confirmed that he had received fresh resignations in the proper format while revealing that the meeting with MLAs had been filmed and will be sent to the Supreme Court.
“I have videographed everything and I will send it to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Ramesh Kumar spent a long time defending the timetable he had set-- spread out over a week—to decide if rebel MLAs had resigned voluntarily. He suggested that the fault lied with the MLAs who had turned up at his office without an appointment at 2 pm-- half an hour after he had left-- on July 6.
“On July 6, I was in my chamber till 1.30 pm. The MLAs came there at 2 pm and didn’t even take prior appointment. So, it’s untrue that I ran away because they were coming.”
“In the whole episode, my job is not to save or remove people,” he said while claiming that he was acting in accordance with the Constitution and following due process and is not required to decide on the resignations at ‘lightning speed.’
“Should I have worked at lightning speed? For whose sake? What about the rules, the people? I only love the Constitution,” he said.
The legislators, holed up in a plush Mumbai hotel since Saturday, returned to Bengaluru on a special aircraft and were brought to Vidhana Soudha amid heavy security earlier for the appointed meeting with the Speaker.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, K.Gopalaiah, Narayan Gowda, Shivaram Hebbar, Byrathi Basavaraj, B.C.Patil, S.T.Somashekar, Mahesh Kumathalli, Pratap Gouda Patil, Muniratha and A.H.Vishwanath arrived a few minutes past six on Wednesday--the time stated by the Supreme Court.
The legislators were forced to come to Bengaluru after some of their resignations had to be re-submitted as it was not found to be in the prescribed format.
The legislators had approached SC on Thursday stating that the speaker should accept their resignations.
Supreme Court on Thursday passed an order directing the rebel MLAs to meet the Speaker at 6 PM to submit their resignations and requested the Speaker to take a decision during the course of the day.
The Speaker in response had petitioned SC to say it was difficult for him to decide the fate of resignations within the given deadline. SC will hear his petition tomorrow.
The current crisis began on Saturday when 12 legislators – nine from Congress and three from JD(S) -- quit their positions. Anand Singh, a rebel Congress lawmaker had resigned earlier in the week. Despite frenetic efforts by the coalition, two independents withdrew support on Monday, and one more suspended Congress MLA resigned on Tuesday. The situation worsened further when two more lawmakers quit on Wednesday.
If speaker Ramesh Kumar accepts the 14 resignation letters on his table, it would bring down the strength of the 224-member assembly (excluding one nominated MLA) to 110, and the majority mark to 106. The ruling coalition would be reduced to a minority with just 103 legislators as against the BJP’s 105. With support from the 2 independent lawmakers who switched sides, the BJP would be in a majority.