House adjourned, CM gets respite

Updated on Jan 28, 2006 05:45 PM IST

Hours after Deve Gowda quit as JD-S chief, Speaker recognised K'swamy as K'taka JDLP leader.

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None | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Bangalore

The Karnataka assembly was indefinitely adjourned on Friday amid protests, giving a brief respite to beleaguered Chief Minister N Dharam Singh hours after former prime minister HD Deve Gowda quit as the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief.

The House was adjourned before Dharam Singh could seek a trust vote in keeping with an order from Governor TN Chaturvedi to prove his majority in the legislature.

Dharam Singh then rushed to the governor to brief him on developments during the day.

But his Congress-led government appeared set to fall after Speaker Krishna decided to recognise rebel legislator and Gowda's son HD Kumaraswamy as leader of the JD-S legislative party.

After supporters and opponents of the government - the JD-S is backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - almost mobbed him, Krishna declared he was adjourning the House for an indefinite period. He said the Congress members were not allowing him to conduct the proceedings.

Earlier, the assembly was adjourned twice for about 30 minutes each amid pandemonium. Congress members shouted slogans against the speaker for recognising Kumaraswamy as the JD-S legislative party leader in place of Deputy Chief Minister MP Prakash, who has refused to toe Kumaraswamy's line.

It was a day of dramatic developments, with Gowda resigning as JD-S president, virtually giving his son a free hand to cobble a government in Karnataka.

Karnataka has witnessed political turmoil since Kumaraswamy split the JD-S, which was part of the ruling coalition, and staked claim to form a new government with BJP's backing.

The BJP and rebel JD-S legislators too sought an appointment with Chaturvedi to present their case.

According to sources in the legislative secretariat, the speaker decided to brief the governor on the day's proceedings and to seek more time to facilitate the moving of the trust vote by the chief minister.

The governor had issued a directive on January 19 that Dharam Singh should face a trust vote by January 27.

On Friday, even as the speaker directed the chief minister to table the motion of confidence, Congress members rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans against the speaker's ruling on Kumaraswamy and termed his decision as illegal.

Congress members led by Irrigation Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge cited Gowda's letter to the governor and to the speaker stating that Prakash was still the leader of the JD-S legislators.

Krishna, however, said he had received a letter from JD-S state unit president N Thippanna last week that said some 45 legislators had elected Kumaraswamy as their new leader.

A frustrated Gowda, after failing to persuade his son to return to the Congress coalition, sent his resignation to party general secretary Bapu Kaldate.

While Gowda was firmly against the JD-S joining hands with the BJP to form a coalition government, his son Kumaraswamy issued a whip to his party legislators to vote against Dharam Singh.

Addressing a press conference, Gowda said he was "weak" and could not fight his son and had decided to resign to maintain unity in the party.

The 45 JD-S rebels have vowed to vote against the government.

In the 224-member assembly, the BJP has 79 legislators, Congress 64, JD-S 56, independents 13, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) five, All India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD) two. The remaining five belong to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM), Republican Party of India (RPI) and three regional parties.

The beleaguered Congress had been banking on a last-minute miracle to survive the trust vote and keep alive its 20-month-old coalition government.

Congress general secretary AK Antony, in charge of party affairs in Karnataka, declared Dharam Singh would face the trust vote rather than quit without a fight.

"We have seen many ups and downs in Karnataka and at the national level. We are prepared to sit in the opposition. But we will not go down without a fight," Antony asserted.

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