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Karnataka crisis: SC orders rebel MLAs to appear before Speaker at 6pm

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The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the 10 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs to appear before the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly at 6 pm and submit their resignation in person. The Supreme Court also directed the Speaker to take a final decision on the issue today. On Friday, the court will hear the decision of the Speaker. In their plea, the rebel MLAs had alleged that the Karnataka Assembly Speaker was not accepting their resignations deliberately as the political crisis in the state showed no signs of abating. The plea, which has sought direction for the Speaker to accept the resignation of these MLAs, would be heard by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

When the issue of the political crisis in Karnataka was mentioned on Wednesday morning before a bench headed by the CJI, the rebel MLAs were assured that the court will see whether their plea can be listed for an urgent hearing on Thursday.

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The MLAs are now likely to fly from Mumbai to Bengaluru to meet the speaker. In their plea, they had alleged that the speaker had refused to meet them all together. The SC bench, headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, has requested the speaker to inform the court of the developments by Friday, when the court will resume hearing on rebel MLAs’ plea.

The bench, consists of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, justice Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, heard the plea filed by the rebel MLAs. “Speaker has acted as a partisan and mala fide manner in the present case in order to protect the Govt. in power which is in a minority” alleges the petition.

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Appearing before the bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, on behalf of the MLAs said that the MLAs were apprehensive that they may be forced to vote in the favour of the ruling alliance if the resignations are not accepted.

The plea has been filed by MLAs Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, HD Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda.

The matter has also kept both house of the Parliament, which is currently in session, in upheaval. The Congress has accused the BJP of horse trading to destabalise the coalition government in Karnataka.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and party’s chief troubleshooter DK Shivakumar was deported to Bengaluru late on Wednesday night after being detained by Mumbai Police for allegedly violating the Section 144 imposed in the Powai area of the city. DK Shivakumar had flown from Bengaluru to Mumbai early on Wednesday morning to try and placate the rebel MLAs staying at Renaissance Hotel in Powai. However, the MLAs wrote to Mumbai Police, alleging threat to life, and had Shivakumar barred from entering the hotel. The senior leader continued to stay put for several hours and was eventually escorted to a rest house for detention and later to Mumbai airport. AICC has filed an FIR against ‘illegal confinement of rebel Karnataka Congress MLAs at a Powai hotel’.

It is remarkable that eleven MLAs, eight of the Congress and three of the JD(S), submitted their resignation to the Speaker’s office on July 6 triggering a fresh political crisis in the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state. Two MLAs had resigned on July 1.The ruling coalition’s total strength is 116 (Congress-78), JD(S)-37 and BSP-1, besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two independents, who on July 8 resigned from the ministry, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s tally will be reduced to 102. The Speaker also has a vote.

Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy claims having majority. On the other hand, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy has ruled out his resignation saying he has the numbers. Kumaraswamy claimed a majority and said, “I have the majority. MLAs are with me. There is no need for my resign.”

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked Kumaraswamy to step down, claiming that his government has lost the majority. The BJP has also urged the governor to step in following the crisis. “We have petitioned the governor seeking his intervention. We may even move a no-confidence motion against the government. We will urge the governor to direct the government to prove its majority,” BJP MLC and party spokesperson N Ravikumar told agencies.

Total 13 MLAs, including Housing Minister M T B Nagaraj, have resigned and two Independent legislators, R Shankar and H Nagesh, have withdrawn support to the Congress-JD(S) coalition government. Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar is yet to take a decision the resignations of the MLAs.

Dr Vaman Acharya, BJP spokesperson, Bengaluru said, “Six months ago, we have done some efforts to form the government. The same story media and Siddaramaiah are repeating. We have nothing to do with the current crisis of the Congress-JDS government. This government is not going to last long, and it will fall. Only then, we will see what to do. So, in that context, we are doing nothing on their part. But if the government collapses and they continue fight among themselves, we will not keep quiet.”

“We will definitely claim to form government. We are already single largest party with 105 MLAs. After fall, defection and resignation, we will attain majority. So, as a majority party we will claim power, not before that. All those who have resigned were never in our contact. But after resigning they sought some help. Our party workers arranged hotel and other facilities in Mumbai. Five more Congress MLAs will resign tomorrow. Hence, this government has to collapse,” he added.

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