Bengaluru, July 18 (IANS) The Karnataka Assembly was adjourned on Thursday without the floor test due to a ruckus between the ruling Congress-JD(S) and opposition BJP members over the Governor’s “interference” in the House proceedings, an official said.
“Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar adjourned the House in the evening till Friday amid ruckus between the ruling and opposition members over a message by Governor Vajubhai Vala to the former (Kumar) for holding the floor test by the end of the day,” a legislative official told IANS.
The Assembly will resume on Friday at 11:00 a.m. for the inconclusive debate on the confidence motion Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved earlier in the day to prove that his coalition government has a majority in the House.
The Governor had sent a message through a Raj Bhavan emissary to the Speaker late in the afternoon for holding the floor test by the end of the day after BJP legislators complained to him that the ruling allies were deliberately delaying the trust vote by prolonging the debate and raising extraneous issues to prevent the trial of strength.
When the Speaker read out the Governor’s message in the House, the ruling alliance members vociferously protested against the latter’s directive and termed it as a gross interference by the Governor in the functioning of the Assembly.
“The Governor has no such powers to direct the Speaker for conducting the floor test within a time-frame, disregarding the right of the members to debate on the trust vote in a democratic set-up,” thundered Congress lawmaker and Revenue Minister R.V. Deshpande.
Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned twice when Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah referred to the Supreme Court’s July 15 order giving liberty to the 15 rebel legislators of the ruling combine to attend the Assembly or not on Thursday for the floor test.
“The apex court’s ruling that the rebels cannot be compelled to attend the Assembly by the party’s whip negates its very purpose under the Anti-Defection Law to disqualify them if defied,” Siddaramaiah told the Speaker.
The former chief minister said the apex court order also prevents the Speaker from acting against the rebels for violating the party’s whip.
“I suggest that we should ask the Supreme Court to modify its order as it interferes with the rights of the political parties and powers of the Assembly Speaker,” asserted Siddaramaiah.
A three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, ruled that the rebels cannot be compelled to attend the Assembly for the floor test in response to their plea for abstaining from the session, as they had already resigned but the Speaker was “delaying” in accepting them.
An allegation by Congress Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar that the BJP had abducted the party’s legislator Srimanth Patil on Wednesday night and flown him to Mumbai via Chennai on early Thursday and got him admitted into a private hospital for treatment, “as he was suffering from chest pain and breathing problem” disrupted the proceedings again.
The BJP members protested against the charge and blamed the Congress for failing to prevent Patil from leaving the resort where he was staying along with the party’s other legislators.
“When you failed to prevent Patil from leaving the resort though he was under your watch, you have no right to blame us if he went out on his own for medical check-up and treatment,” BJP member C.T. Ravi told the Congress members.
Unconvinced of the circumstances under which Patil went to Mumbai and reasons for getting admitted in a private hospital, the Speaker directed state Home Minister M.B. Patil to get in touch with the family members of Patil and ascertain if he went to Mumbai of his own volition or was taken forcibly by BJP members as alleged by Shivakumar.
With about 20 legislators, including 15 rebels, two Congress members (Srimanth Patil and B. Nagendra), two independents (R. Shankar and H. Nagesh) and one from BSP (N. Mahesh) abstaining from the Assembly, the BJP members accused the ruling allies of deliberately delaying the floor test fearing imminent defeat in the absence of a majority.
“The ruling members are afraid of the floor test as 18 of their colleagues are not present in the House and hence scared of proving they have majority, as they have been boasting for long,” BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told the Speaker.