Governor seeks President's rule

Governor seeks President's rule

The Governor had last week directed the chief minister to seek a trust vote by October 12 after a dozen and half legislators, including 14 from the BJP, reduced the ministry to a minority by withdrawing their support. 

The Union Cabinet is likely to consider Bhardwaj’s recommendation on Tuesday evening at its scheduled weekly meeting. But indications were that the Manmohan Singh Government might wait until the fate of two directly related petitions filed in the Karnataka High Court on Monday by some aggrieved MLAs is known. 

The aggrieved MLAs, 16 of them, moved the high court challenging Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah’s order late on Sunday terminating their membership of the House under the anti-defection law.  They have prayed for an interim stay on the Speaker’s order. The matter came up for hearing the Court during the day and the hearing will resume on Tuesday.  The disqualification of the 16 MLAs – 11 BJP rebels and 5 Independents – paved the way for the ruling BJP to win the trust vote in the 224-member Assembly whose effective strength got reduced to 208. When the House met at 10 am, the trust vote proceedings lasted for just about 15 minutes. Amid unprecedented chaos and confusion, the chief minister moved the motion confidence in the House and the Speaker immediately announced that the motion was carried through by a voice vote. Surprisingly, the Opposition did not press for a division of votes as the Speaker announced the voice vote result.

Opposition stand

The combined Opposition though questioned the very conduct of the Speaker. House marshals and even the police were called in to maintain order in the House, though not even a semblance of order was in evidence during the brief proceedings. While the 11 BJP rebels kept off, the disqualified independent MLAs barged into the House and disrupted the proceedings with help from aggressive JD (S) and Congress members.
As per the Assembly secretariat, 105 BJP members signed the attendance register in the Assembly lounge, while the signatures by members of the combined Opposition––the Congress and the JD (S)––were just 36. The secretariat sent the report of the outcome to the Governor around 2:30 pm. Soon thereafter it emerged that the Governor had recommended President rule in the State. A Raj Bhavan official flew to Delhi carrying the Governor’s report at 4:30 pm.

In the report, the Governor is learnt to have dubbed the confidence vote as farce. In his assessment, the Speaker has misused the anti-defection law to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the confidence vote.

Sources said the Governor has taken exception to the presence of “outsiders” in the House while transacting the special business. He has reportedly termed the Speaker’s action unconstitutional. He has also reported that 120 MLAs (including the disqualified legislators) had conveyed their opposition to the government.

The Governor’s report came soon after the Congress and the JD (S) leaders rushed to Raj Bhavan from the Assembly to press for the dismissal of the BJP government on the ground that it had lost the people’s “trust”.

The BJP too launched its offensive with its leaders now targeting the Governor directly. The ruling party demanded Bhardwaj’s recall, alleging that he had conducted himself as an “agent” of the Congress. The party decided to parade its 105 MLAs before President Pratibha Patil in Delhi to show that it had the majority to continue to rule the State.
In the morning, before the start of the session, the Assembly premises, including the hall, had turned into a virtual battlefield with the marshals, police and some of the BJP members making a vain bid to stop the disqualified five independents MLAs––Goolihatti Shekar, P M Narendraswamy, D Sudhakar, Shivanagouda Naik and Venkataramanappa––from entering the House.

However, JD (S) members led by Zameer Ahmed Khan, along with the disqualified members, gate-crashed the main Assembly entrance. JD (S) MLC E Krishnappa and others smashed the glass panes with their fists and shoved the police away to force their entry into the Assembly premises, despite the presence of large number of marshals.

The protesting Opposition members manhandled the marshals forcing them to open the door. The JD(S) members and five Independents waged a pitched battle with the marshals who tried to evict the disqualified members.

The members broke furniture and hinges of a door besides hurling microphones at the Speaker. One of the marshals was slapped on the face and another seriously injured.
When the situation went out of control, an army of police personnel led by Bangalore police commissioner Shankar Bidari arrived in the Assembly as per a written direction from the Speaker.

The protesting members raised objection to it and warned the police from entering the House – a first in the State’s history. 

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