Karnataka crisis: Kumaraswamy ready to quit, prohibitory orders in Bengaluru ahead of trust vote

Karnataka crisis: Speaker sets deadline for floor test at 6pm
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy.

Bengaluru/New Delhi: Stalemate continues in Karnataka assembly as the Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the petition submitted by two Independent MLAs seeking direction for floor test to Wednesday. The bench, led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, adjourned the hearing to Wednesday saying the speaker of the assembly was optimistic that the trust vote will be held during the course of the day on Tuesday.

Prohibitory orders have been imposed in Bengaluru city after Congress-JD(S) and BJP workers clashed outside the Vidhana Soudha building just before Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy started his speech on the trust motion. In his speech the CM stated that he is ready to step down.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner Alok Kumar said all pubs and wine shops in the city will be closed till July 25 and anyone found violating these rules will be punished.

The SC began hearing a plea by the rebel MLAs to stay the floor test in the house on the ground that the speaker was delaying to hold it. On Tuesday, the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition, especially the members of the Congress, had contended in the assembly that they should await the Supreme Court ruling.

As a result, late on Monday night, the Karnataka assembly was adjourned till Tuesday without voting on the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy even after three days of debate. As the House debated the motion with frequent scenes of pandemonium, Congress made its intentions clear right from the beginning that voting be deferred as the apex court was seized of pleas by two Independent MLAs on the issue of trust vote.

Twenty MLAs, including 17 from the ruling coalition, skipped the proceedings on Monday, besides two Independents and BSP member N Mahesh, who is supporting the government.

Karnataka crisis: Speaker sets deadline for floor test at 6pm
Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar

With the fate of the 14-month-old Kumaraswamy government to be sealed at a floor test scheduled for 6pm, the Karnataka Assembly resumed debate on the confidence motion on Tuesday.

Tottering on the brink of collapse, the JD(S)-Congress coalition government had ignored the previous deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala last week. Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had adjourned the House on Monday with a promise of holding the floor test on Tuesday evening.

"I am adjourning the House nearly at midnight to meet again on Tuesday at 10 am for concluding the debate on the confidence motion by 4pm and holding the floor test by 6pm," Kumar told the members and left the Assembly premises in a huff.

The Chief Minister moved the confidence motion to prove majority after the coalition government was reduced to minority following the resignation of 15 rebel legislators of the ruling combine and withdrawal of support by two Independents in the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated without voting right.

"The floor rest will take place after the debate and the Chief Minister's reply to the motion he moved on July 18. All the members have been notified to be present in the Assembly for the trust vote," a legislature official said here.

The opposition BJP is upbeat about the imminent fall of the JD(S)-Congress government with 15 of its rebel legislators vowing to abstain from the session ignoring a whip issued by their parties to remain present or face disqualification.

Karnataka crisis: Speaker sets deadline for floor test at 6pm
Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa holds a meeting with the party MLAs at a resort in Bengaluru, Sunday. Photo: PTI

The Speaker had also summoned the 12 rebel Congress MLAs at 11am on Tuesday, but they have sought four weeks' time to meet him pleading they are not in a position to return to Bengaluru for personal reasons.

Besides the 15 rebels, two Congress legislators - Srimanth Patil and B Nagendra - are unlikely to be present in the House for the floor test, as they are in hospital.

With two Independents - R Shankar and H Nagesh - having switched loyalty from the ruling alliance to the BJP after resigning as ministers on July 8, the BJP has 107 members, including 105 of its own.

Though Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) member N Mahesh said he would vote in favour of the motion, the ruling combine still falls short of 17 legislators in the absence of 15 rebels and two Congress members, who are in hospitals, for the floor test.

With the strength of the 225-member House, including one nominated reduced to 208 (225-17), the new halfway mark for simple majority will be 105, instead of 113.

The Congress will have 65 MLAs, including the Speaker and the 34 MLAs of JD(S).

The combined strength of the two parties will be 99 (65 + 34), which would rise to 100 if the BSP member joins them, and will be pitted against 107 BJP MLAs, with 2 Independents supporting it.

(With inputs from IANS & PTI)

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