High drama as Karnataka CM moves confidence motion

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy today moved the confidence motion in the State Assembly with the 14-month old Congress-JDS government headed by him hanging by a thread after a rebellion by a section of ruling coalition lawmakers.

With the numbers stacked against the ruling coalition, Kumaraswamy moved a one-line motion, saying that the House expresses confidence in the Ministry headed by him.

As soon as the motion was moved, opposition BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa stood up and said the trust vote process should be completed in a single day.

“The Leader of Opposition seems to be in a hurry,” Kumaraswamy taunted Yeddyurappa. BJP is reportedly apprehensive that the ruling coalition might try to get the debate prolonged as much as possible to buy time in its last ditch effort to shore up numbers before the voting is taken up.

Kumaraswamy insisted that doubts had been created about the Congress-JDS coalition and it had to be brought before the country. “We have to tell the truth,” he said.

The trial of strength is taking place a day after the Supreme Court ruled that the 15 rebel Congress-JDS MLAs “ought not” to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the State Assembly.

The court verdict was interpreted in political circles as a relief for the rebel lawmakers, as it categorically said an option should be given to them as to whether they wanted to take part or stay out of the Assembly proceedings. The ruling coalition had held out the threat of using the Whip against the wayward MLAs, citing the disqualification provision under the anti-defection law.

Armed with the court order, the rebel Congress-JDS MLAs camping in Mumbai have said there was no question of stepping back on their resignations or attending the session. As many as 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JDS — have resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government, putting the Kumaraswamy-led government in jitters.

A day ahead of the trust vote, senior Congress lawmaker Ramalinga Reddy said he would withdraw his resignation, giving some relief to the ruling coalition.

The ruling coalition’s strength in the House is 117– Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House, including the nominated MLA and Speaker.

If the resignations of the 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and 3 from JDS) are accepted, the ruling coalition’s tally will plummet to 101, (excluding speaker) reducing the 14 month-old Kumaraswamy government to a minority.