BSY's day to redeem lost trust

Sixteen disqualified MLAs cannot enter todays session; Varthur Prakash deserts JD(S)

BSY's day to redeem lost trust

In the high-stakes battle of political survival, the state BJP had reasons to feel upbeat on Wednesday with the Janata Dal (Secular) continuing to suffer setbacks.  This time, the JD(S)  effort to marshal legal support for the five disqualified legislators and obtain a stay on Speaker K G Bopaiah’s Monday ruling in the Karnataka High Court fell through.
When the House assembles at 11 am on Thursday, the Speaker will most likely go for a division of votes after a voice vote, if the Opposition presses for it.

On Monday, the Speaker chose not to go for a head count of MLAs present in the House. It is learnt that the chief minister has sought an appointment with Governor H R Bhardwaj at noon on Thursday. Going by the unprecedented pandemonium the House witnessed on Monday, the State Government has made extensive arrangements to deploy a large of number marshals on the Assembly premises, besides posting hundreds of policemen in and around Vidhana Soudha.

As the five disqualified MLAs tried to submit a petition seeking an interim stay on the Speaker’s disqualification ruling, Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N Kumar set it aside, saying that the submissions made by the advocates appearing on behalf of the legislators carried “no merit”.

The division bench, however, said that “depsite having recorded the aforesaid view, we are satisfied, that the ends of justice would be met, in the facts and circumstances of the present case, if the proceedings of the Assembly to be held on October 14 are ordered to be subject to the final decision of the main case.”

Casting vote
The bench also did not concede the request by the advocates of the disqualified members that they be allowed to cast their votes in sealed covers which would be submitted to the court, besides deferring the trust vote till the judgment was delivered.
Rejecting the petitions, Justice Khehar said the court cannot give a directive to the Speaker to allow the Independent legislators to vote or postpone the floor test as it was the Speaker’s and not the judiciary’s prerogative.

“Similarly, the court cannot ask the Independents to vote on a confidence motion outside the legislative Assembly, as there is no provision or precedence for such an act,” the Chief Justice observed.

Following the court’s order, the ruling BJP members heaved a sigh of relief, though they are fully aware that the Yeddyurappa government is not yet out of the woods.
The reason for their trepidation is that their numerical strength is 106 (in a truncated Assembly of 208), including the support of Independent MLA Varthur Prakash who walked over to the ruling camp from the JD(S) on Wednesday evening.

Fluid situation
The combined Opposition of the Congress and JD(S) has 101 members.
But these figures remain “fluid” as the configurations may change on the floor of the House, especially because BJP MLA S Manappa Vajjal and JD(S) member Ashwath have so far not indicated who they will support.

Besides, there are unconfirmed reports that a couple of Congress legislators may abstain from voting. Yeddyurappa will require a minimum of 105 votes to win the trust motion. In the event of the JD(S) successfully weaning away at least two BJP legislators, that will sound the Yeddyurappa government’s death knell.

But this appears to be an unlikely scenario after the BJP Legislature Party meeting issued a whip to all its MLAs to vote in favour of the confidence motion.

While state BJP leaders claimed that Yeddyurappa will win the trust vote, JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy said the government will lose the motion. The Congress and the JD(S), which had earlier planned to stay away from voting, decided to take part in the exercise since the matter was now sub judice and the outcome of the proceedings in the House would determine the court’s verdict.

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