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In Karnataka political crisis, Supreme Court begins hearing on plea by rebel MLAs

Written by  Published in Crime Monday, 20 February 2017 08:19
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BJP says motion will be defeated and CM will have to resign; Cong leader says MLAs will return to fold.

Karnataka’s ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S), coalition will face a trust vote on Thursday, days after its 16 lawmakers submitted their resignations and brought the state government on the verge of collapse.

The 16 resigned between July 1 and 10, and 15 of them have been staying at a hotel in Mumbai, but speaker KR Ramesh Kumar is yet to take a final call on accepting their resignation.

The strength of the assembly would be reduced to 209 if the 16 resignations are accepted with a halfway mark of 105. The coalition’s strength would be reduced to 101 while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) already have 105 lawmakers. The lawmakers have petitioned the Supreme Court accusing Kumar of delaying the acceptance of their resignations at the government’s behest. The court will hear the matter on Tuesday.

Kumar said that the assembly’s business advisory committee (BAC) come to a consensus on the trust vote and a discussion on it would begin at 11 am on Thursday. “On Monday, leaders of the [opposition] BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] had given a no-confidence motion. However, since both amount to the same, according to the rules, I said we will take the trust vote up first,” Kumar said.

BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa said he was confident that the government does not have the numbers to survive the vote. “Let us wait for Thursday. There are 15 MLAs [members of legislative assembly] in Mumbai and two Independents [who have withdrawn support to the government]. Another two MLAs have promised us [support]. So we have got 100% confidence that the motion will be defeated and the chief minister [ HD Kumaraswamy] will have to resign,” he said, without elaborating on who the other two members were.

Congress and JD (S) leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were a few surprises planned. The Congress is certain that former home Ramalinga Reddy, who had also resigned, will vote in favour of the government. It has also asked senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad to convince another Congress dissident, Roshan Baig, to back the coalition.

A coalition leader said that communication channels were open with all 16.

“Nobody has completely stopped speaking to us. This is why we are hopeful that some of them might still come back,” he said.

Congress leader Eshwar Khandre said the MLAs were still with the party. “We are confident of winning the trust vote because those MLAs are from our party and they have been carted away. They will return to us,” Khandre said.

In Mumbai, the rebel lawmakers stayed confined to their hotel rooms through most of the day amid speculation that Azad and Kharge would attempt to meet them.

“We do not intend to fly to Bengaluru for the trust vote. We are firm on our decision,” said a dissident MLA on condition of anonymity.

The MLAs separately wrote a letter to police seeking protection. They said they have “absolutely no intention of meeting Kharge, Azad or any other Congress dignitary”.

The legislators said that they feel “threatened” and asked the police not to allow the leaders if they come to the hotel. Source : ht

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