Karnataka budget session today, govt on brink

Preparation for Budget Session at Vidhana Soudha

The Budget session of the legislature will commence on Wednesday with the Congress-JD(S) coalition on the brink amid fears that the BJP or some disgruntled legislators of the ruling alliance may try to topple the government.

The government’s chief whip Ganesh Prakash Hukkeri on Tuesday evening issued a whip to all ruling party legislators to “compulsorily” attend the legislature session from February 6-15.

The two-sentence whip read: “The 2019-20 Budget will be tabled that will need to be approved alongside other legislation and businesses of the House. So, from February 6 to February 15, from the time the Speaker begins and ends the session, members are to be present compulsorily on all days and vote in favour of the government.”

The session, which promises to be a stormy one, will start with Governor Vajubhai R Vala’s address to both houses of the legislature. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is slated to present the 2019-20 Budget on February 8. It is speculated that he could face a no-trust vote during the session. The coalition is also mindful that he will have to resign if the Money Bill (the Budget) is defeated by a vote, an unprecedented scenario for Karnataka.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa implied that Kumaraswamy will present the Budget as per schedule. “If the Congress-JD(S) coalition keeps its legislators intact, there is no question of us toppling the government,” he said.

Some BJP leaders have expressed, in public, doubts over Kumaraswamy presenting the Budget. “He will present the Budget,” Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah told reporters. “The Budget will be passed, too. This government is hard as a rock,” he added. Asked about disgruntlement in the Congress, he said: “Nobody is disgruntled. Everyone will attend the session.”

Four disgruntled Congress legislators remain estranged from the party — Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumthalli and B Nagendra. The threat of disqualification looms over them if they violate the whip the ruling alliance has issued.

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