Karnataka’s Congress-JDS alliance government is all set to take the floor test on July 18, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Monday. “Discussion on the Vote of Confidence will be taken up on Thursday at 11 am in Karnataka Assembly,” Siddaramaiah said after the crucial meeting of the lawmakers. The announcement comes ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, in which the top court will hear the pleas of the rebel coalition lawmakers. The apex court had ordered status quo on the rebels till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear a plea of five more rebel Congress MLAs along with the pending petition of 10 legislators seeking a direction to the Karnataka Assembly speaker to accept their resignation. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, that they also be made parties to the pending petition, which is to be heard on Tuesday. Five more rebel Congress MLAs from Karnataka had moved the Supreme Court on July 13 against the speaker not accepting their resignation. These MLAs are -- Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraj, Munirathna and Roshan Baig.
During the last week’s hearing, the Speaker, the rebels and the Chief Minister presented their sides. Appearing on behalf of the rebel MLAs, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi urged the top court to issue contempt notice to Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar.
“Speaker is riding on two horses. He says Supreme Court is nobody to give me direction,” Rohatgi said during the hearing. He also said that “he has to study the resignations”. “The issue is that matter of resignations has nothing to do with Speaker's powers inside the house,” he added. “Speaker has not decided yet on the resignations if MLAs,” he further said.
After Rohtagi, Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for Karnataka Speaker and said that, “the Speaker will decide the disqualification first.” He also added that The Speaker is duty-bound to decide on the disqualification first. Dr Rajeev Dhavan, arguing for Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, objects to the submissions of the rebel MLAs that the Speaker has acted in a mala-fide manner. Kumaraswamy also said that out he had to be heard since the MLAs claimed his government has lost the mandate. Appearing on behalf of the Chief Minister, Rajeev Dhavan emphasised on ‘10th Schedule and grounds of disqualification.’
Thirteen MLAs -- 10 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. Another Congress MLA R Roshan Baig resigned on Tuesday. On Wednesday, in yet another setback to Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka, two more MLAs of the Congress - MTB Nagraj and Dr Sudhakar - submitted their resignations to Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. With this, the total number of MLAs who resigned from their post has gone up to 16, including independent lawmaker R Roshan Baig. Dr Sudhakar, the lawmaker from Chikkaballapur, was said to be angry with the Kumaraswamy government after he had been removed from the post of Pollution Control Board Chairman ealier this year. He had then threatened to "stand for himself" if the high command refused to listen to him. The 44-year old MBBS graduate, who also had a small corporate stint before joining the politics, had often showed rebelion signs by giving given blunt comments. The Karnataka Speaker has not accepted the resignation of any of the MLAs.
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.