Karnataka Assembly adjourned till Monday without floor test

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Bengaluru, July 19 (IANS) The Karnataka Assembly was on Friday adjourned till Monday without a floor test despite Governor Vajubhai Vala extending the deadline he gave on Thursday to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy for proving his majority.

“The Assembly will reconvene on Monday to conclude the debate on the confidence motion the Chief Minister moved on Thursday to prove a majority,” Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar told the legislators and adjourned the House after extending the day-long session by over two hours amid a ruckus.

Protesting the House adjournment to Monday, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members sought the floor test by midnight, saying members of the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) had debated the motion for two days and were deliberately delaying the trust vote, as they know they don’t have a majority in the 225-member House.

Yielding to the treasury benches after Kumaraswamy, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byre Gowda assured the House that the ruling combine would conclude the debate on Monday for the floor test, the Speaker reluctantly agreed to adjourn the session to Monday.

“There will be no more adjournments and extension for the floor test which will be held on Monday after the debate ends,” Kumar told the lawmakers.

Earlier, senior BJP legislator Madhuswamy told the Speaker as 20 of their legislators abstained from the Assembly since Thursday, the ruling allies knew they don’t have the numbers to prove a majority.

Of the 20 legislators, 12 are from Congress, three of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) who resigned, two Congress who are unwell and in hospitals, two are independents and one is from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Though the two independents switched loyalties and expressed support to the BJP, they were conspicuously absent in the Assembly since it was convened on July 12 for the 10-day monsoon session to pass the state budget for fiscal year 2019-20.

“As the Assembly strength is reduced by 20 to 205 from 225, with 103 as the halfway mark for a simple majority, the defeat of the motion is certain if the ruling combine members don’t turn up for the trust vote on Monday,” asserted Madhuswamy.

The Congress’ strength was reduced to 65 from 79, including the Speaker, JD-S to 34 from 37 and their combined strength to 99.

In contrast, the BJP has 105 of its own and a total of 107 with the support of the two independents.

Earlier in the day, the Governor directed the Chief Minister to prove the majority by 6 p.m. after the 1:30 p.m. deadline he set on Thursday night lapsed, as discussions on the motion continued till the Speaker adjourned the House till 3 p.m. for lunch.

In response to the demand of the ruling lawmakers to allow them to participate in the discussions, the Speaker said he would extend the session for a couple of hours, but pleaded with them to end the debate by Friday and conduct the floor test.

Resuming the inconclusive debate on the motion, stalled on Thursday for six times due to ruckus between the lawmakers of the ruling allies and the BJP, Kumaraswamy said it was for the Speaker to decide on the Governor’s order as to when he should prove the majority in the House.

“It is not for me to decide by when I should prove the majority. It is the Speaker who is the custodian of the House and has the supreme authority to decide how the session should be conducted,” said Kumaraswamy.

Intervening in the debate, Byre Gowda said the Governor cannot give such an order on the motion which was being debated by the ruling parties and the opposition members.

“We fail to understand how the Governor could direct the Chief Minister to prove majority in a limited timeframe without completing the debate by both sides and hearing the reply on it by the Chief Minister as mentioned in the rule book,” said Gowda.

A restive BJP told the Speaker not to allow the ruling combine to further delay the floor test as there was no stay on it from the Supreme Court on the trial of strength.

Rejecting the BJP’s demand, ruling lawmakers asked the Governor to go back and accused him of being a BJP agent who was converting the Raj Bhavan into a BJP office.

–IANS

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