On a day of high drama in the Karnataka Assembly and swift developments later, governor Vajubhai Vala yesterday directed Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to prove his majority today by 1.30pm.
“I require you to prove your majority on the floor of the House on or before 1.30pm tomorrow (Friday),” said Vala in a letter to the chief minister within hours after Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar adjourned the Assembly to meet today at 11am for resuming the debate on the confidence motion Kumaraswamy moved earlier in the day for a floor test.
The governor also brought to the chief minister’s attention that he had already directed the Speaker to hold the floor test by the end of Thursday under the Article 175(2) of the Constitution.
“But I am informed that the House was adjourned. Under these circumstances, I require you to prove majority today by 1.30pm.,” the letter reiterated.
Earlier yesterday, 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 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.
Meanwhile, the Congress accused the BJP of abducting democracy in the broad daylight by using money and muscle power to throttle the mandate of an elected government.
Raising concerns that have emerged following the Supreme Court ruling, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked, “Can a floor test take place when the whip has been nullified?” He said the court in its judgement has said that 15 members of the Assembly who have quit ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or opt to remain out of the same.
“As a result, the Congress party’s authority to issue and enforce a whip has been effectively nullified. This concern manifested itself yesterday when the rebel MLAs, on the diktats of the BJP, took advantage of the court’s order and avoided participating in the floor test,” said Surjewala.
“How can the Congress enforce its rights under Schedule 10 of the Constitution to issue a whip if some members have been exempt from complying with the constitutionally mandated whip?” he questioned.
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