Cong keeps Shettar's hopes alive
Decides not to move no-confidence motion against government
In what may be a relief to the Jagadish Shettar government which is surviving on a thin majority, the principal opposition party, Congress, announced on Monday that it would not move a motion of no-confidence against the government.
The Congress’ decision has also brightened Shettar’s chances of presenting his maiden budget on February 8. This will be the fifth and last budget to be presented by the BJP government in the 13th Assembly.
With the resignation of 12 MLAs loyal to KJP leader B S Yeddyurappa recently, the government’s strength has been reduced to 108 from 119.
The resignation by three more MLAs will be sufficient to make it a minority government as 106 is now the required number to continue in power. Resignation letters submitted by two MLAs are pending with Speaker K G Bopaiah. Four ministerial berths are vacant, out of the total 34.
On Monday, the governor’s address to the members of the Assembly and Council lasted for just 22 minutes. Except some BJP MLAs from Bellary district and Independent MLA B Sriramulu, all legislators were present.
The BJP government, since it came to power, had only one woman minister - Shobha Karandlaje. Now, she too has joined the KJP. In the lobby, MLAs were found discussing only about the forthcoming polls and nothing else.
During the winter session held in Belgaum, Yeddyurappa, despite not being an MLA, made it to the Suvarna Soudha to invite his loyalists to the KJP convention held in Haveri. But this time, Yeddyurappa is on a tour.
The ruling party is apprehensive that the KJP leader may spring a surprise by making more BJP MLAs loyal to him resign before February 8. But so far, there are no signs of this.
Till Sunday evening, Yeddyurappa did try his best to make his one-time loyalist ministers, including Umesh Katti, to resign. But his efforts went in vain as a majority of the BJP MLAs are ready to quit only after the budget session and not earlier.
‘Eight MLAs ready to quit’
KJP leaders have been claiming that a group of about eight MLAs are ready to resign any moment and that they are only waiting for their leader’s order.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah told reporters that the Congress has decided not to move the no-confidence motion as the government would collapse on its own.
“The government is on the verge of collapse. If the Opposition were to move the no-confidence motion, it will be like flogging a dead horse. Moreover, we do not have the required numbers,” he said.
He said technically, the government had the majority, but in reality it had been reduced to a minority, as more number of BJP MLAs had openly extended their support to Yeddyurappa.
“They are staying back in the BJP only to loot. If the government respects the Constitution, it should dissolve the Assembly and seek a fresh mandate. It should not present the budget, as it will have no sanctity,” he said.
The JD(S) has, on its part, made it clear that it will support the Congress if it moves the no-confidence motion against the government. Two BJP MLAs Madal Virupakshappa and Shankarlinge Gowda, who are likely to join the JD(S), too have not put in their papers.
JD(S) State president H D Kumaraswamy is not ready to take the blame for bringing down a government headed by a Lingayat.
Opposition parties also made the government extend the session by two days till February 15, indicating that they were not averse to debate the budget proposals.
The Business Advisory Committee, comprising the Speaker, the chief minister, the law minister and the Opposition leaders, took the decision to extend the session. The Congress is said to have favoured extending the session by at least two days.
Governor H R Bhardwaj has indicated that he would not interfere as the Opposition parties have sufficient opportunity to make the government prove its majority during the budget session. The governor may intervene if the KJP leaders make an appeal to him, after making more MLAs resign, sources said.
Speaking to reporters after the governor’s address, Shettar expressed confidence that there was no threat to his government and that he would be presenting the budget as scheduled.