Legal tangle: I don’t know what to do, says Speaker

Legal tangle: I don’t know what to do, says Speaker

Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. DH file photo

Eight hours of debate, four adjournments and the intervention of Governor Vajubhai R Vala were not enough for Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s confidence motion to conclude on Thursday.

The stalemate could drag on with the Congress-JD(S) coalition and the BJP planning to move the Supreme Court over the crisis. 

Kumaraswamy formally moved the motion that the House had confidence in the Cabinet headed by him. A vote would have led to the collapse of his government as 20 legislators were not present. 

To stave off a vote, the coalition sought postponement of the trust motion on the grounds that there were legal ambiguities that needed to be resolved.

A frustrated BJP rushed to Raj Bhavan with a complaint and Vala wrote to the Speaker thus: “The CM is expected to maintain the confidence of the House at all times during his tenure. I, therefore, send this message to the House to consider completing the process by the end of the day.” 

The Speaker, however, summoned Advocate General Uday Holla for advice.  

After moving the motion, Kumaraswamy said rebel MLAs had accused him of running a regime that provided maladministration, scams and was fraught with internal contradictions. “I still have some respect left in me. How can we put this motion to vote without a discussion?” he said. 

As soon as he broached the topic of defections and the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah raised a point of order. “In view of the SC order, the 15 MLAs will be influenced to not attend the session. It’ll affect a Constitutionally elected government. As the CLP leader, this order infringes upon my right under the 10th Schedule to issue a whip to the MLAs. So, till this is clarified, the motion should be postponed,” he said. 

The BJP objected, saying the 10th Schedule was not relevant to the confidence motion moved. “Whether the MLAs come or not is left to Congress. It’s a party affair. Why are we discussing this here? They are just trying to bide time,” Madhuswamy said.

The Speaker, convinced of the ambiguities, said he was worried. “I don’t know what to do. Who will implement this order? Instead of guiding me, you’re settling your own fights,” Kumar rued. 

At one point, Kumar locked horns with the BJP, which had had enough of the dilly-dallying and demanded division of votes. “I can’t do it to your convenience,” Kumar yelled.  

As a mark of protest, the BJP members decided to spend the night on the Vidhana Soudha premises.