Karnataka braces for numbers game in Assembly
Bengaluru: A desperate JD-S-Congress coalition government is pulling all stops to face the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly for ensuring its survival in the number game on Thursday.
With senior Congress ‘rebel’ legislator R Ramalinga Reddy hinting at withdrawing his resignation, the beleaguered ruling ally is hoping a few more would turn up in the Assembly to cast their vote in favour of the 13-month-old tottering coalition government.
“We are confident of facing and winning the floor test, as our leaders have been trying their best to get as many of the 13 legislators who resigned from the Assembly. With Reddy agreeing to withdraw, we hope more will follow,” Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda said.
In the 225-member Assembly, before the resignations poured in, the Congress has 79, including the Speaker, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 37, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 105, Independents 2, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 1 and nominated 1.
With 113 as the halfway mark for simple majority, the ruling combine had 119 before the crisis began on July 1.
After 16 rebel legislators — 13 of the Congress and 3 of the JD-S resigned between July 1-10, and two Independents withdrew support to the 13-old-month shaky government on July 8, — the effective strength of the ruling alliance was reduced to 101 from 119.
If all the 16 rebels abstain from the session, the effective strength of the Assembly for the floor test will be 209 (from the original 225), including the Speaker and the one nominated member.
If Reddy withdraws his resignation and attends the session, the ruling combine will have 102, including the Speaker and one from the BSP.
As the nominated member has no voting right and if the Speaker does not exercise his vote, the ruling combine will need 4 more legislators to meet the new halfway mark of 105 in a House of 209 members.
With the support of 2 Independents, the opposition BJP has 107.
“We are hoping our legislators MTB Nagaraj, K Sudhakar, Roshan Baig and Munirathna will also attend the session and vote in favour of the confidence motion Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will move,” Gowda said.
After the Supreme Court’s Wednesday’s ruling that the 15 rebel MLAs, who petitioned it for permission to abstain from the Assembly, cannot be compelled to attend the session for the trust vote even if a Whip is issued by their respective parties, they decided to stay put in a Mumbai hotel and go to Bengaluru only after the trust vote.
“Both the parties have issued whip on Wednesday night to all the legislators, including the rebels as the Speaker has not accepted their resignations so far. As they (rebels) are still our members, they are bound to abide by the whip to attend the session and vote in favour of the confidence motion on the floor,” added Gowda.
An upbeat BJP is, however, confident that Kumaraswamy will not have the numbers to reach the magic figure (halfway mark) and win the trust vote.
“Our gut feeling is the Chief Minister will initiate the debate and prefer resigning than face the humiliation of defeat in the floor test. If he does not have the numbers in his favour, he will have no choice but go to Raj Bhavan and gracefully submit his resignation to state Governor Vajubhai Vala at the earliest,” a BJP spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy on Thursday moved the confidence motion in the Assembly to prove that his Congress-JD-S coalition government has majority in the House.
As decided by the House Business Advisory Committee on Monday and schedule, Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar directed the Chief Minister to move the motion for debate and floor test.
“I hereby raise to move the confidence motion to prove that our ruling combine has majority in this House,” Kumaraswamy told the Speaker in Kannada and began addressing the lawmakers present.