Disqualification threat looms

Disqualification threat looms

Battle of wits: Eleven MLAs continue to hold out

Disqualification threat looms

Opposition leader Siddaramaiah leaves his residence after a meeting with Congress legislators in Bangalore on Friday. KPNThe ruling party is preparing the ground to disqualify all 11 rebels led by Excise Minister M P Renukacharya as legislators under Section 10(1)(a) of the anti-defection law before the crucial trust vote scheduled for October 11.

Besides, Speaker K G Bopaiah who, in the parliamentary system, holds a non-partisan constitutional post, may exercise the option to disqualify four Opposition MLAs who created an unruly scene during his election a few months ago. Efforts are also believed to be underway to ensure that the five Independent legislators who threw in their weight with the BJP rebels will face the same fate as the 11 dissidents.

The plan is to reduce the combined strength of the Opposition, including the rebel MLAs, who continue to be hold up in Goa, in the House and win the confidence motion. The Opposition Congress and the JD(S) now have 107 MLAs, including six Independents. With 11 rebels, the total Opposition strength is 118 — enough to bring down the government. On the other hand, Yeddyurappa has 105 members as of now.

Should the Speaker employ the legislative rules, the Opposition strength will dwindle to 98, paving the way for the government to sail through the no-trust motion.

Bopaiah has already served show-cause notices dated October 7 on all the 11 rebels. As the dissidents are away in Goa, the notices were pasted on the doors of their rooms in the Legislative Home. But in Renukacharya’s case, the notice was sent to his official residence. The notices to the Independents are likely to be issued on Saturday as the BJP also filed a petition in this regard on Friday. The BJP has argued that the five Independent MLAs were part of the government as ministers and hence they have violated the law.

This apart, the ruling party is making all efforts to ensure that some Opposition legislators abstain from voting. Already, JD(S) Channapattana MLA M C Ashwatha, it is said, has been poached. Ashwatha has been “missing” since Thursday evening and, sources said he is unlikely to return to the City till Monday afternoon.

The Opposition, too, has stepped up efforts to “win over” the ruling party MLAs. With the possibility of horse trading gaining ground before the crucial trust vote, the BJP, Congress and JD(S) have shifted their respective legislators to the safer environs of resorts.

The Congress moved its MLAs to a resort in Pune. The BJP rebels, who had shown some signs of ending the political turmoil on Thursday, backtracked, fearing that the government may not trust them and go ahead with disqualifying them. They refused to budge despite BJP interlocutors, former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar and Tourism Minister G Janardhan Reddy, holding protracted negotiations.

JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy is said to be playing the spoilsport in any possible patch up.

The former chief minister is learnt to have told the rebels that they will be disqualified even if they returned and they would stand to benefit only if they voted against the government.

Renukacharya, who had announced arriving in Bangalore with his band of rebels on Thursday, remained incommunicado, while former minister Shivanagouda Naik said that the dissidents remained united and will not budge an inch from their stand.

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