Despite the BJP straining every sinew to embarrass the coalition government, the H D Kumaraswamy dispensation scored yet another point in the ongoing political war, as the Budget for the fiscal year was passed in both Houses without any hurdles on Thursday.
Caught on the back foot over the audiogate scandal and its inability to shore up numbers to topple the government, the BJP kept up pressure against the government, especially Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, by holding him responsible for the attack on its MLA Preetham Gowda. The BJP’s offensive had little effect on the government, which effortlessly got its Budget passed amid uproarious scenes.
The finance bills, including the vote on account for Rs 80,16,837 crore for the year 2019-20 and Rs 14,58,142 crore for 2019-20, were passed without any discussion as the BJP paralysed the functioning for the fourth consecutive day. Kumaraswamy also moved the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address, which was later adopted by voice vote.
The Budget session which began on February 6 — with the BJP disrupting Governor’s address to the joint sitting of the legislature — was adjourned sine die, a day ahead of its scheduled conclusion, without transacting business.
When the session started, BJP members who were in the well of the House continued with their protest against the attack on Preetham in Hassan. Terming the coalition administration “goonda government”, BJP chief and leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, B S Yeddyurappa, told the Chair that he and his MLAs had petitioned Governor Vajubhai Vala earlier in the day, seeking his intervention.
“Preetham has been threatened and intimidated by the JD(S). We suspect anything may happen to him. We have petitioned the Governor to ensure protection to MLA and family,” he said, adding that Kumaraswamy was directly responsible for instigating the attack, unable to digest the political growth of Preetham.
Preetham is the lone BJP MLA in the Vokkaliga heartland of Hassan. Yeddyurappa said the BJP will hold statewide protests against the “dictatorial” government.
Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar directed the government to ensure protection to Preetham and family. “It’s my duty to protect him and his family. I am giving a clear direction to the government to protect him. The government should also give him police protection when he is out on work,” he said.
Despite the Speaker’s intervention, the BJP continued with its protest seeking “justice” by shouting slogans, leading to an adjournment.
When the House reassembled, the Speaker allowed the introduction and passage of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (Amendment) Bill, amid continued clamour.
After the bill’s passage, the Speaker expressed displeasure about the manner in which the Budget was passed. Stating that public money was at stake, Kumar said, “My heart bleeds. I think twice before spending my money on any small thing. But, we have passed the Budget bearing of thousands of crores of rupees belonging to taxpayers. This is not a happy prospect. We should ensure that this does not happen in future at least,” he said, adjourning the House sine die.
The Assembly, which met for 15 hours and 10 minutes in the last seven days, saw the audiogate scandal overshadow everything else. It was the only issue that was discussed at length, with Kumar raising the matter on February 11. Kumar has been charged with “Rs 50 crore” bribe in the audio clip involving Yeddyurappa in a purported conversation to lure a JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandkur in his alleged attempt to topple the Congress-JD(S) government.
Following Kumar’s advice, Kumaraswamy had announced a SIT probe into the audio controversy, which the BJP had staunchly opposed.
The BJP’s demand for a judicial enquiry or a House committee probe was not met by the government.
The coalition partners can breathe a sigh of relief for now, as it has managed to safeguard the government by quelling the dissent to a certain extent. The BJP, however, is still hopeful that it can cash in on the simmering discontent among the Congress legislators.