An edgy CM waits Guv's gambit

An edgy CM waits Guv's gambit

Warm smiles and cold vibes: A file photo of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and Governor H R Bhardwaj.The petition of two advocates to the governor for permission to sue the chief minister has become B S Yeddyurappa’s latest nightmare.

The chief minister who has been able to survive a series of efforts to unseat him since he assumed power, from within his party — by the Reddy brothers of Bellary, and without — by JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy who encouraged MLAs from the ruling party to rebel against Yeddyurappa, is now on tenterhooks again.

The chief minister is said to be assailed by anxiety that the governor, with whom he has not had the best of relations, may accord permission to the two advocates, Balraj and Siraj, to prosecute him.

Till recently, the chief minister’s chief worry was whether the disqualified BJP MLAs and the Independents would be able to win their case to overturn their disfranchisement from the House. The possibility of their return to the House, and the certain revenge they would wreak on the chief minister for getting them disqualified, was the major dread.

Now that their appeal is in the Supreme Court, the chief minister’s crisis managers prepared for the worst case scenario of the apex court overturning their disqualification with yet another defence.

A committee set up by the Speaker to inquire into the two separate episodes wherein the Opposition members behaved in a disorderly fashion in the House, prepared a report that recommended the suspension of the members for a certain period.

Panel’s report

The committee headed by Appachu Ranjan that probed the unruly incidents in the House on October 11, the day the Yeddyurappa government won a confidence vote, recommended that eight of the Opposition legislators be suspended from the membership of the House for a year, and seven others for six months, “for creating pandemonium, lowering the dignity of the House and curbing the rights of other members”.

Accepting the committee’s report would reduce the Assembly strength to 191, the Opposition numbers by 15 for six months, and by eight for a year, which should enable smooth sailing for the government. But the governor’s possible next move is what is worrying the chief minister.

Sources in the Raj Bhavan reiterated that the governor is studying the files pertaining to the illegal land denotification and allotment scam allegedly involving the chief minister and Minister R Ashoka. In case the governor allows the prosecution, Yeddyurappa and Ashoka could be prosecuted, and criminal cases can be filed against them in the magistrate and sessions court. Whether such sanction is legally or morally justified is debatable. But it would certainly be embarrassing for Yeddyurappa and the party government. At this juncture, it would be too much to guess what would be the governor’s decision. Once the orders for prosecution are issued by a court, then a stay could be sought.

BJP sources said senior leaders of the party had left it to Yeddyurappa to cope with his crisis. The view of the party leadership was that unlike in the past, it was not an intra-party rebellion. If he can manage to bail himself out, he can continue. But in case the situation demands that he demit his office, the party high command would not allow him to dissolve the Assembly.

*In the history of Karnataka, no chief minister has been prosecuted, although there have been such instances in the country.

*For example, J Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu and Lalu Prasad Yadav of Bihar were prosecuted and arrested when they were chief ministers.

*The prior permission of a governor is mandatory to prosecute a minister as he holds the office at the pleasure of the governor.

*In case a person who has sought the permission of a governor for prosecution of a Cabinet member withdraws his request, then the decision taken by the governor becomes inconsequential.

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