Speaker competent authority to decide on disqualification: Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Talking tough, Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah Thursday said his petition seeking disqualification of four disgruntled party MLAs was pending with the Speaker, who is the competent authority to take action under the anti-defection law.

The former Chief Minister said his petition to the Speaker has nothing to do with the four MLAs attending the session since Wednesday, as he noted that the legislators have violated the whip in earlier instances.

“There is no link between them (MLAs attending session and petition to the speaker), as they (MLAs) did not come earlier despite issuing whip, we moved the petition,” Siddaramaiah said in response to a question whether letter to the Speaker will be withdrawn.

Stating that the disgruntled MLAs have not met him, on the question of reconsidering his decision, he said, “The petition has already been given. It is with the Speaker and he is the competent authority to take action under the anti-defection law.”

Four disgruntled Congress MLAs, who had gone missing for several weeks amid political turmoil in Karnataka, surfaced here Wednesday two days after the party recommended their disqualification to the Speaker.

The lawmakers had kept the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings on 18 January and 8 February. They had also skipped the assembly Budget Session since 6 February.

The four – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathali – were reported to be in touch with the BJP, which has been accused of trying to poach the MLAs to bring down the JDS-Congress government.

The MLAs were upset ever since the cabinet reshuffle and expansion on 22 December that saw Jarkiholi’s removal. The Congress had petitioned the Speaker on Monday, seeking action against the four MLAs after warning them to mend their ways and fall in line.

The MLAs were earlier given notices, seeking an explanation for their conduct. According to sources, the four decided to attend the proceedings to vote in favour of the finance bill, to save themselves from the disqualification move.

Siddaramaiah also hit out at the BJP and its chief B S Yeddyurappa for not allowing the discussion on budget and various issues during the assembly session. “It clear shows for them (BJP) personal interest was more important than public interest…Yeddyurappa has hunger for power to become Chief Minister. They have failed miserably in their duties,” he added.