Political activity peaks in Karnataka as SC orders floor test on Saturday (Intro Roundup)

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New Delhi/Bengaluru, May 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court directive on Friday to hold floor test in the Karnataka Assembly on Saturday led to heightened political activity in the state, with the Congress-JD-S post-poll alliance sure of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa losing the battle and the BJP sounding confident to sail through.

The Supreme Court had in its Thursday morning order rejected Yeddyurappa’s plea, made through senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, asking for at least a week’s time to face the floor test, and directed it to be conducted on Saturday instead.

A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday said the pro-tem Speaker, conventionaly the senior-most member of the assembly, would administer the newly-elected members their oath and then conduct the floor test.

The court junked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal’s suggestion that the floor test be conducted through secret ballot.

The court also barred Yeddyurappa from taking any policy decisions till the floor test.

On Friday evening, the confrontation between the two sides once again reached the Supreme Court, with the Congress claiming that the appointment of BJP legislator K.G. Bopaiah as pro-tem Speaker by the Governor “violates every single constitutional norm” of senior-most member being appointed to the post.

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Karnataka the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislature party leader Yeddyurappa was on Thursday morning sworn-in as the Chief Minister after the May 12 election threw up a hung Assembly.

The BJP won 104 of the 222 seats, falling eight short of the 112-halfway mark. The Congress bagged 78 seats and the JD-S 37.

The court also restrained the Chief Minister from nominating an Anglo-Indian member.

Following the apex court order, Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru that he was confident of proving his majority in the House.

“We welcome the Supreme Court order of floor test at 4 p.m. on Saturday. We are confident of proving our majority,” he said.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was election in-charge of the BJP in Karnataka, also expressed similar confidence.

On the other hand,, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the BJP’s “bluff” has been called.

“The BJP’s bluff that it will form the government, even without the numbers, has been called by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money and muscle, to steal the mandate,” he tweeted.

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Congress communications incharge Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters in Delhi that they will bring the matter of Bopaiah’s appointment before the court.

He said Congress member R. V. Deshpande was the senior-most member of the House.

Bopaiah, 62, is a three-time legislator. He was Speaker during the BBJP rule in the state from 2008-13.

Surjewala said Bopaiah has been indicted by the apex court.

“People of Karnataka are determined to foil and defeat these evil and nefarious designs of Governor Vajubhai Vala, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.”

Party Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the BJP will be defeated in floor test and that Yeddyurappa had exhibited “desperation” in becoming the Chief Minister.

Singhvi referred to Venugopal’s suggestion and took a dig at the Modi government, saying that trust vote is never conducted through secret ballot.

However, BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of “murdering the mandate” in Karnataka after being “rejected” by the people of state with its numbers coming down from 122 to 78.

“The Congress has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. Some days back they had questioned the Supreme Court verdict in the case of judge Loya’s death. They even tried to impeach the CJI,” he said.

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Patra said both “prayers” of the Congress to the apex court to quash Governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form government and to invite the Congress-JD-S instead, have been rejected.

“Yet the Congress is claiming victory, like Rahul Gandhi had claimed ‘moral victory’ after defeat in Gujarat elections.”

Meanwhile, both Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leaders said they had shifted legislators to Hyderabad to prevent the BJP from “poaching” them.

In Bengaluru, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said it is surprising that the Congress and the JD-S, which together have the support of 117 legislators including two Independents, were not invited to form a government by the Governor.

Former state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah held a crucial meeting with newly-elected Congress MLAs in Hyderabad to discuss the strategy to be adopted during the floor test.

The Supreme Court, after a rare midnight hearing, early on Thursday refused to stay the oath-taking ceremony of Yeddyurappa as sought in a joint petition by the Congress and the JD-S.

–IANS

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