Yeddyurappa, Siddaramaiah in wordy duel over whip

Bengaluru: Congress leader Siddaramaiah and Leader of the opposition B S Yeddyurappa of BJP were locked in a wordy duel in the Karnataka assembly today over the fate of whip issued to the rebel MLAs whose resignation has threatened the continuity of the coalition government.

During the resumed debate on motion of confidence moved by chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa told Siddaramaiah, the Congress Legislature Party leader, that the whip he has issued against the rebel MLAs has no value. “My understanding of law is that the Supreme Court has given protection to the (rebel) MLAs from the whip. They cannot be compelled to attend the assembly proceedings. Whether you agree with me or not but your whip has no value,” the BJP veteran told Siddaramaih.

However, Siddaramaiah countered him saying the apex court has not barred him from issuing whip and the Speaker of the assembly has upheld his right. “Supreme court has not told me not to issue whip. I have got every right to issue whip under the Constitution. It has been upheld by the Speaker,” he said. He also said the tenth schedule of the Constitution dealing with disqualification on ground of defection has made it clear that not only the violation of a whip but also indulging in anti-party activities could invite disqualification of the MLAs.

The argument broke when Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar was addressing the House. Shivakumar reminded Yeddyurappa about his reported statement in Ballari that byelections should not take place and those who resign to circumvent defection should be barred from contesting elections for 10 years. “BJP has got a big strength after the Lok Sabha election. Come on, this is the time. Put an end to this system (defections),” Shivakumar told the BJP leader.

Kumaraswamy and state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao have sought a clarification from Supreme Court on its 17 July order by which the 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs were granted relief that they cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing assembly proceedings.