BSP MLA N Mahesh (File Photo)
While speculations were rife that BSP MLA N Mahesh has been directed to skip the Karnataka floor test tomorrow, party chief Mayawati on Sunday cleared the air, asking the lone legislator to vote in support of the HD Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JDS government. Monday's trust vote is likely to decide the fate of the 14-month-old wobbly coalition government in the southern state.
Earlier in the day, BSP MLA N Mahesh told media, "My high command has told me to abstain from voting on trust motion so I won't attend the session on Monday and Tuesday. I will be in my constituency", amidst hectic parleys in coalition circles. The Bahujan Samaj Party had contested the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections in alliance with the JDS.
On July 19, Karnataka Assembly was adjourned till Monday, defying the two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to demonstrate the majority of the Congress-JDS government in the Vidhana Soudha on Friday itself. It comes just a day after former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa and other BJP legislators staged an overnight dharna, saying they would not leave the House until a trust vote is held.
Meanwhile, the coalition government, which is on the verge of collapse following a series of resignations of rebel MLAs, moved the Supreme Court, arguing that the Governor could not interfere with the assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was on and sought clarification on its July 17 order causing hindrance in issuing whip to the legislators.
As many as 16 MLAs - 13 from Congress and three from JDS - had resigned, while independent MLAs R Shankar and H Nagesh have withdrawn support to the coalition government, putting the government on edge. One Congress member Ramalinga Reddy retracted, saying he would support the government.
The ruling combine's strength 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 15 MLAs (12 from Congress and 3 from JDS) are accepted or if they stay away, the ruling coalition’s tally will plummet to 101, (excluding the Speaker) reducing the government to a minority. The coalition strength would fall further to 98 as claimed by Yeddyurappa, as two Congress MLAs are unlikely to attend due to health reasons, while BSP's Mahesh has not received any directions from Mayawati on the stand to be taken on the trust vote.
BJP's strength is also likely to come down to 106, as Shankar, who has extended support to the saffron party, will not attend the session, according to sources, fearing poaching by Congress as Speaker has not accepted his request for his seating arrangement along with the opposition.