Congress rebel MLAs Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli (File Photo)
Days after Congress-JDS coalition government led by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy fell in Karnataka, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday disqualified one Independent and two Congress rebel MLAs as Assembly member till end of term in 2023. Those disqualified Karnataka legislators include Independent MLA R Shankar, Congress MLAs Ramesh Jharkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli.
Shankar is one of the two Independent MLAs who withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy government and switched sides ahead of trust vote held in Vidhana Soudha on Tuesday. Jarkiholi and Kumathalli too submitted their resignations in early July, pushing the 14-month old wobbly Congress-JDS government to the brink of collapse. The decision to disqualify the Karnataka legislators has been announced by the Speaker during a media briefing over the status of the rebel MLAs in the politically unstabled state.
"Independent MLA R Shankar has been disqualified," Kumar told media, adding that "rebel Congress MLAs Ramesh L Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli have also been disqualified under anti defection law of the 10th schedule".
All three cannot contest elections till the 15th state assembly is dissolved, the Speaker said, dashing hopes of ministerial berths under a BJP government that most of them were promised. "I have rejected the resignations... the way they have come - it compelled me to arrive at the inference that resignations were not voluntary and genuine," Kumar said.
"I don't have power to penalise the 3 MLAs. Everybody is watching my behaviour... If the finance bill not passed by July 31... it is my responsibility that such a financial impasse is not created. By Monday, it will be 29th. I have to discharge my obligation," he stated.
The decision on 14 other MLAs would be taken following a further study, the Speaker added.
Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar: MLAs(Rebel Congress MLAs) Ramesh L Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli have also been disqualified under anti defection law of the 10th schedule. https://t.co/wKzlHyZDQu— ANI (@ANI) July 25, 2019
The press briefing by Kumar comes amid suspense over the fate of the 16 Congress JDS MLAs, whose departure from the Congress-JDS coalition, in early July, set off the political turbulence in Karnataka. Though the wave of resignations forced the JDS-Congress government out of power in the state, the high-voltage political drama, which started on July 6, however, is not going to end anytime soon.
While the BJP may celebrate the ouster of Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister, BS Yeddyurappa knows that there is no easy way in near future, given to the fact that the Speaker is yet to accept the resignations of 14 other legislators.
If the Speaker does not accept the resignations, the MLAs would continue to be the member of the Karnataka Assembly. In such a situation, the majority mark will be fixed at 112 and the disqualification of three legislator won't help the BJP to make its way to the Karnataka Assembly. In case the resignations are accepted, the strength of the house will come down to 105, but in that scenario too, the Saffron fold will have to run a minority government untill or unless the rebels are elected as BJP legislators.
However, the BJP does not seem in a hurry to form the next government in Karnataka and is rather suggesting the President's Rule untill the Speaker accepts or rejects the resignations of the rebels.
Speaking to IANS, party spokesperson G Madhusudan said, "If the Speaker takes longer time to accept or reject the resignations of the rebels, the Governor (Vajubhai Vala) may recommend President's rule in the state, as we will not like to stake claim to power in such a situation".