BENGALURU : Karnataka chief minister designate H D Kumaraswamy is understood to have finalised broad contours of the government he will be forming in alliance with Congress Party during his discussions with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
It is learnt that Kumaraswamy has agreed to give the post of speaker and a deputy chief minister to its major ally. The allocation of the ministerial berths will be based on the strength of the two parties in the Legislative Assembly.
As Congress has 78 MLAs and two independents, the party is likely to get 20 or 21 berths while JD (S) with 38 MLAs will settle for 12 or 13 ministries. The portfolios to be allotted to the party will be finalized at Bangalore. The Congress Party is keen to get home, revenue, power and finance.
The Congress president has authorized AICC general secretary in-charge K C Venugopal to lead the negotiations in this regard. Venugopal has also been tasked with thrashing out a common minimum programme for the coalition in consultation with senior leaders of the party. It will be distilled from the poll manifestos of the two parties.
Kumaraswamy met Rahul and Sonia at the Congress chief’s residence in New Delhi in the evening on Monday. He invited both the leaders to the swearing in ceremony to be held on Wednesday, May 23. Before his meeting with Kumaraswamy, Rahul had discussed the situation in the state with party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot and Venugopal.
It is learnt that Kumaraswamy alone will take the oath on Wednesday. The ministry will be expanded after the floor test. The JD (S) has already indicated his readiness to prove his majority within 24 hours of the oath. The Congress and JD (S) legislators are still locked up in resorts and hotels as the party leaderships fear that the BJP will continue their efforts to poach the MLAs to defeat the floor test.
BJP president Amit Shah’s claim on Monday that his party will be able to form the government if the MLAs are released from their ‘lock ups’ indicates that the party has not ended its pursuit for power in Karnataka even after bowing out before the floor test on May 19.
Shah reiterated that the Karnataka mandate was against Congress and his party would have formed the government if the Congress and the JD (S) had not closed ranks after the election. He termed it as an unholy alliance and it will not be able to provide a stable government because of their internal contradictions.
Kumaraswamy in Delhi to finalise modalities of government formation
BANGALORE: After visiting temples at Holenarsipura in Hassan district, Karnataka chief minister designate H D Kumaraswamy has left for New Delhi to finalise the modalities of the government formation.
He will discuss the composition of the government and a common programme with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Kumaraswamy has ruled out rotational chief minister. He said that the Congress Party had agreed to remain as the chief minister throughout the term.
The JD (S) is willing to give a majority share of the ministers to the Congress Party. The Congress is likely to get 18 to 20 ministerial births, including two deputy chief ministers, in the 34-member coalition ministry.
The formation of the ministry will not be easy for both the parties with many aspirants staking claim for position in the ministry. The Veerashaiva Mahasabha has come in the open demanding five berths, including a Dy CM post, for the community.
The formation of the ministry may be completed only after the swearing-in-ceremony and the floor test. Reports said that initially Kumaraswamy will alone take the oath. The swearing is scheduled to be held at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 23 and the floor test within 24 hours, according to the reports.
The swearing-in ceremony to be held at the Kandeerava stadium is likely to become a show of the opposition strength with leaders of most non-BJP parties confirming their participation in the event. Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu, Telengana CM Chandrashekhara Rao, BSP chief Mayavati, DMK president M K Stalin are among those who have confirmed their participation.
Political observers believe this will send out a strong signal for the unity all democratic and secular forces to unseat the Narendra Modi government from power at the centre. They believe that this will be possible if the Congress is ready to play second fiddle in states where regional parties have a strong sway.
AICC general secretary in-charge Karnataka K C Venugopal said that the Congress was ready for compromise as the party’s main objective is to keep the fascist forces away. He hoped that the alliance the Congress has forged with the JD (S) in Karnataka will inspire similar alliance in other states and the opposition will face BJP unitedly in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The Janata Dal (Secular) has sought to cement its alliance with Congress Party by postponing the swearing-in of H D Kumaraswamy from Monday to Wednesday.
The party leadership agreed to postpone the oath after Congress pointed out that Monday is the death anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Party leader H D Kumaraswamy will be taking the oath at Kanteerava Stadium.
The postponement of the oath will also ensure the presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and United Progressive Alliance (UP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The JD (S) is planning to make the event a show of opposition unity.
Kumaraswamy said that he will be inviting national leaders of all anti-BJP parties like Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP chief Mayawati, RJD leader Tejeshwari Yadav, Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu.
All these leaders had expressed solidarity with the Congress and the JD (S) when the BJP with just 104 seats in the 224-member Assembly tried to use money and muscle power to lure their MLAs after Governor Vajubhai Vala invited Yedyurappa to form a government and prove his majority within 15 days.
Political analysts believe that this may signal consolidation of all anti-BJP parties during the 2019 parliamentary elections. Talks of a “mahagatbandhan” have already been initiated by Telengana Rashtriya Samiti chief Chandrashekhara Rao.
Kumaraswamy’s father and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda said that the party’s alliance with Congress will continue beyond Karnataka.
“This is only the beginning. Our next destination is 2019. The need of the hour is for secular parties to come together and Karnataka has not just shown the way but has gone a step ahead in that direction by forming a government,” the 85-year-old former prime minister told Times of India.
This is seen by political analysts as an indication that he may a play a major role if the “mahagatbandhan” takes shape.
Yedyurappa quits, JD (S) awaits Governor’s invitation
Curtains came down on the 48-hour political drama in Karnataka with Chief Minister Yedyurappa stepping down from the post without facing the floor test ordered by the Supreme Court on Saturday.
He announced his resignation at the end of an emotional speech delivered after swearing-in of the MLAs. He ended the speech saying that he was going to the Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala.
Yedyurappa, who exuded confidence that he will prove his majority in the Assembly till the morning, veered round to the decision after his party could not cobble together the required numbers within 24 hours given by the apex court.
There have been allegations that the party had done everything possible to lure the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs by offering posts and money. The party had pinned their hope on 14 Congress MLAs, who were elected from the Lingayat belt.
Siddaramaiah himself had sought the help of Lingayath Mutt leaders to persuade the MLAs to come to his aid. However, the Congress offered no opportunity for the Mutt authorities to contact them. They hauled up the MLAs in safe places, where none could contact them.
Senior BJP leaders had also tried to establish contact with MLAs individually. They tried to lure the MLAs by offering them ministerial posts and money. The Congress that recorded the telephonic conversation of six BJP leaders, including that of Yedyurappa and his son, has released four of them, before the floor test putting the party in deep soup.
The BJP was hopeful of mustering the majority when the Governor had given Yedyurappa 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the house. However, the Supreme Court dashed their hopes by curtailing the time for the confidence vote to 24 hours.
The Congress leaders have described the development as a victory of the democracy. They hoped that the Governor will now invite the JD (S) Congress combination to form the government.
“Today, democracy has been saved. What Governor should have done earlier, should do now. He should invite us to form government," said Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao.
Supreme Court orders live videography of floor test
The Supreme Court has rejected the plea of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) to replace K G Bopaiah with a senior most MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly as pro tem speaker to conduct the floor test.
However, the court has ordered live telecast of the proceedings. The court has restrained the pro tem speaker from conducting any business other than the swearing-in and floor test. Following the court verdict, the petition challenging the appointment of Bopaiah, a four-time MLA, by Governor Vajubhai Vala was withdrawn.
The three-judge bench, comprising of Justices A K Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S. A. Bobde and headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, that ordered the floor test on Saturday observed that the convention to appoint a senior-most member in the Assembly as pro-tem speaker was not backed by law.
Justice Bobde pointed out 'there've been instances where senior most MLA wasn't appointed as Pro tem speaker. He, therefore, said that it cannot give a direction to the Governor to change the pro-tem speaker and appoint another MLA.
Senior lawyer, Kapil Sibal, who is appearing for JD (S) argued that their objection was not about the seniority but the past record of Bopaiah. He pointed out that his conduct as speaker in 2010 during a trust vote of Yedyurappa was found by the Supreme Court itself unjustified.
However, the court observed that it could not pass an order on the basis of his track record without hearing him and noted that if the court go into the appointment, the floor test will have to be postponed. The petitioners then beat a retreat and accepted the suggestion for live telecast of the proceedings.
Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared for the Congress in the hearing of the petition against the Governor’s decision to invite Yedyurappa to form a government, said that their objective was to ensure transparency of the floor test process and added that they have achieved it with the apex court ordering live telecast of the proceedings.
Speaking to reporters, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that it was the first time that the supreme court had ordered live videography of the floor test. He thanked the court for the order saying that it will solve the party’s concerns.
Meanwhile, the swearing-in of MLAs has begun under Bopaiah. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was the first to take the oath. He was followed by former chief minister Siddaramaiah. The crucial floor test is scheduled to be held at 4 PM.
Congress, JD (S) keep eyes on Supreme Court ahead of floor test
The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set for the crucial floor test in the Karnataka Assembly at 4 pm even as the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) are keeping their eyes on Supreme Court for the outcome of their petition challenging the appointment of K G Bopiah as the pro tem speaker by Governor.
The three judges bench that ordered the floor test on Saturday will be hearing the petition at 10.30 AM. Unmindful of the case, Bopiah, who was administered the oath by Governor Vajubhai Vala on Friday, has taken charge at the Vidhan Soudha.
Chief Minister Yedyurappa, who addressed a legislature party meeting of the party MLAs, at hotel Shangrila, has expressed confidence that he will the floor test. This is his 6th floor test. While he lost the first test in November 2007 after JD (S) refused support, he won the second in June 2008.
His third floor test was in 2010. which Yeddyurappa won by a voice vote. However, the then governor disapproved it and recommended President’s rule. Yeddyurappa was given another chance to prove his floor strength in October, 2010.
He won the 2010 test after Bopiah, who was speaker then, disqualified 11 BJP members after they had withdrawn support. The Supreme Court then had observed that the speaker’s action did not “meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play” and indicted him.
The Congress and the JD (S) has moved the supreme court against his appointment fearing that he may torpedo the present floor test. They argued that he was appointed by the governor in violation of the convention of appointing a senior most MLA as the pro-term speaker.
Meanwhile, Yedyurappa has expressed confidence that he will win the test and continue as the chief minister. Addressing the party workers, he urged them to remain calm and start the celebration after 5 pm. He also said that the Cabinet meeting will be held on Sunday and take all policy decisions, including the welfare measures for the farmers.
The Congress camp also appeared confident that none of their MLAs will switch over to the BJP side. JD (S) leader H D Kumamaraswamy had on Friday alleged that two his MLAs were hijacked by the BJP.
The Congress heaved a sigh of relief after two MLAs, who did not join the group in Hyderabad, surfaced in Bangalore. Congress MLA B Narayan Rao from Basavakalyan claimed that they will BJP and JD (S) MLAs were together. “We are 117 of us together. We will get justice and we are 100 percent sure about it,” he added.
The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the floor. Prohibitory orders under section 144 have been imposed around the Vidhan Soudha to ensure smooth conduct of the floor test. Reports said that the police had deployed 3000 personnel around the assembly.
Congress releases audio clip, alleging bid to bribe MLAs
The political drama in Karnataka has turned murkier with Congress accusing the BJP of spreading the net to lure the MLAs from the rival camp by offering money and posts.
The party has released an audio purported to mining baron Janardhanan Reddy offering a ministerial position and money to the Raichur MLA of the Congress to prove the allegation. In the audio clip, Reddy was heard saying that his party’s national president Amit Shah will fix the deal if he was ready to switch side.
Times Now quoted Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad as saying that the BJP had approached 21 party MLAs. The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs are now in Hyderabad. They are expected to return to Bangalore later in the night.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah has gone to Bangalore to escort them back to the state capital. Meanwhile, BJP MLAs are gathering at the Shangrila hotel in the city to discuss the strategy to be adopted for the floor test tomorrow. Chief Minister B S Yedyurappa will be addressing them.
Congress to challenge pro tem speaker’s appointment
The Congress is planning to go back to the Supreme Court against the appointment of BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as pro tem speaker of Karnataka Assembly by Governor Vajubhai Vala for the floor test to be conducted on Saturday.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters in New Delhi that the party was exploring the possibility of challenging the appointment of Bopiah as he was appointed in violation of the convention to appoint the senior-most MLA as the pro tem speaker.
The senior-most MLA in the assembly is R V Deshpande, whose name was in the list of senior legislatures forwarded to the governor by the assembly secretariat. While Deshpande is an eight-time MLA, Bopiah is a three-time MLA.
Surjewala said that Bopaiah’s partisan conduct as speaker during the last term of the Yedyurappa government between 2009 and 2013 had come under criticism. In May 2011, the Supreme Court quashed his decision to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of a no-confidence motion against the Yedyurappa government in October 2010.
Yeddyurappa government could survive after 11 rebel BJP MLAs and five Independent MLAs were disqualified by Bopaiah on the eve of the voting. The 16 MLAs had withdrawn their support to the government on October 6, 2010 and were suspended on 11 October, 2010.
Surjewala said that the Supreme Court had then given stinging structures against Bopaiah, he said adding that there was no need for appointing a junior MLA as pro-term when there were several others, including one in BJP, senior to him.
"In the current situation, Deshpande should have been appointed the pro tem speaker without any doubt. He may have been elected on a Congress ticket but at least his unbiasedness and his respect are intact, unlike Bopaiah," Surjewala said.
BENGALURU : Another controversy has erupted in Karnataka before the crucial floor test on Saturday with Governor Vajubhai Vale appointing KG Bopaiah of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Pro Tem speaker.
According to reports, the governor selected him from a list of senior legislators submitted to him by the Assembly secretariat. Eight-time Congress MLA R V Deshpande was the senior most legislator in the list. However, the governor ignored his name.
Bopiah, who is a three-MLA, was also appointed as pro-term speaker last time when Yedyurappa was elected chief minister of Karnataka. Sources in the BJP justified the appointment saying that it was based on his experience. However, Congress leaders pointed out that Deshpande had also acted as pro term speaker in the last assembly.
According to convention, pro term speaker is usually the senior most MLA in the house. Subhash Kashyap, a former secretary general of Lok Sabha, told India Today news channel that the seniority could be either in age or in the number of terms he has served the legislature.
Bopiah is much junior to Deshpande on both counts. The Congress has objected to the governor's decision and said that the convention should have been followed.
The pro tem speaker will have a crucial role to play as he has to decide the mode of the floor test according to the Supreme Court verdict. The floor test is significant since none of the three players have the required majority to form the government.
Karnataka Congress team leaves for Hyderabad to escort MLAs back for floor test
Having won the legal battle in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka Congress and the Janata Dal (S) have geared up their machinery to hold their flocks together for the floor test to be held on the floor of the Legislative Assembly tomorrow.
According to reports, the MLAs held together in Hyderabad now will be brought to Bangalore only by the time the Assembly session begins. A Times Now report said that the senior leaders of the two parties have left Hyderabad and the discuss the strategy to be adopted for defeating the confidence vote to be moved by chief minister B S Yedyurappa.
The Congress team to be led by former chief minister Siddaramaiah has gone Hyderabad by a chartered flight. The team will include senior leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, G Parameshwara etc. The team will escort the MLAs back to Bangalore on Saturday
The move is significant in the context of the confidence expressed by the BJP camp that they will win the floor test. Chikmangaluru-Udupi MP and BJP State General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje has been claiming that Yedyurappa is having the support of 120 MLAs in the 224-Assembly.
Senior Congress leaders said that all but one of their 87 MLAs were intact. The party is doubtful about Vijayanagara MLA elect Ananand Singh, who have not been in touch with the party since Governor invited Yedyurappa to form the government.
While Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that he has been abducted by the central government, JD (S) leader H D Kumaraswamy said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had poached the Congress MLA by raking up a case pending against him in the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Kumaraswamy alleged that Home Minister Rajnath Singh had threatened to “screw” him if he did not join the BJP.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka that he was hopeful that all the 78 party MLAs will attend the Assembly session and cast their vote against Yedyurappa. However, the Congress camp is doubtful whether the BJP will allow the proceedings to be conducted peacefully if they fail to muster the required majority.
Their only consolation is that pro-term speaker will be Congress MLA R V Deshpande according to the Supreme Court verdict. Though Deshpande has not received any intimation from the Raj Bhavan about his appointment, Congress leaders believe that Governor will not violate the apex court order and appoint Deshpande.
The Governor appoints the senior-most legislator of the House as a Pro term Speaker. Speaking to News18, RV Deshpande, who is the senior-most member of the Karnataka Assembly said, "Have not received any confirmation from Raj Bhavan whether I will be the pro term Speaker tomorrow. Generally, the senior-most legislator is appointed as the Pro term Speaker but since I have not been asked yet, so I cannot say anything."
According to the three-bench verdict, the pro-term speaker will decide the mode of the floor test. The apex court has already rejected the Attorney General’s plea for secret ballot. Deshpande, who is an eight-time MLA, told CNN-News that he will conduct the floor test in a transparent manner.
Supreme Court orders floor test on Saturday
BENGALURU : The Supreme Court has ordered a floor test in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly to prove the majority of the BJP government led by B S Yedyurappa tomorrow (May 19).
A three-bench judge passed the order after hearing the counsels of Congress, Janata Dal (S) and the BJP on the petition filed by the first two questioning the governor’s decision to invite the Yedyurappa to form the government and to give him 15 days’ time to prove it on the floor of the Assembly.
While the counsels for the Congress expressed their readiness to face the floor test tomorrow, Mukul Rohtagi, who represented the BJP, sought at least time up to Monday to conduct the floor test. He argued that it was difficult for the party to bring all the MLAs to Bangalore since many of them have gone out of the state after the election.
However, the bench, comprising Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, court rejected the plea and said that an immediate floor test was the only way to remove the cloud of uncertainty hanging over Karnataka. The court also quashed the government order nominating a representative of the Anglo-Indian community to the house.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, who appeared for the Central Government, pleaded for a secret ballot during the floor test. The court rejected this too and said that the floor test will be conducted as per the normal procedure under a senior MLA as the pro-term speaker.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Shoha Purandeshwari welcomed the supreme court verdict and asserted that Yedyurappa would prove his majority on the floor of the legislative assembly as directed by the court.
Congress steps up protest along with legal battle
BENGALURU : After moving their MLAs out of Bangalore to prevent BJP from poaching, the Congress Party has decided to step up its protest against the swearing-in of BJP leader B S Yedyurappa along with the legal battle in the Supreme Court.
While the party has already launched protests in Goa and Manipur against the ‘arbitrary’ decision of the governors not to give them an opportunity to form government as the single largest party in the Assembly, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) is geared to take out a march to the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore for not applying the same yardstick his counterparts applied Manipur and Goa.
The governors of Goa and Manipur had invited a post-poll alliance stitched by the BJP to form the government. However, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala refused to take cognizance of the Janata Dal (S)-Congress alliance which claimed a majority of 117 MLAs in the 224-house and gave the BJP with 104 MLAs the opportunity to form the government.
The Congress protests is expected to begin from the KPCC office at 11 AM. Senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Gehlot, K C Venugopal and Siddaramaraiah will join the 2-km march to the Raj Bhavan, according to party sources.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has also called for protests all over the country against the "partisan’ act of Karnataka Governor. The party has sought an appointment with President Ramnath Kovind to register their protest against the “undemocratic” action of the Karnataka governor.
In Telengana, where the Congress MLAs have been sheltered, the party has planned protests in all districts. AICC in-charge of Telengana, Khuntia said that the party workers will stage dharnas and rallies across the state on Friday.
Leader of Opposition in Telangana Assembly, Mohammad Ali Shabbir requested Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to join the rally in Hyderabad. The chief minister had on Thursday offered safe shelter to the Congress and JDS MLAs in his state.
According to reports, the Congress and JDS MLAs had reached Hyderabad early morning on Friday and were lodged at Park Hyatt. News18 reported that they were later shifted to Taj Krishna hotel. According to sources, three Congress MLAs did not join the flock while all the 37 MLAs are said to be in the Taj Hotel.
Meanwhile, all eyes are focus on the Supreme Court with the three-judge bench taking up the JDS-Congress petition against the governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form a government without majority. However, the Congress does not expect the apex court to quash the swearing-in of Yedyurappa.
The party feel that the court may reduce the 15 days’ time given to Yedyurappa to prove his majority on the floor of the house. It may not be easy for BJP to demonstrate the majority as the rival camp is claiming that they have more number of MLAs than that of BJP.
The BJP can overcome the test in the assembly if only 209 MLAs attend the session. To ensure this they have to keep 12 MLAs away from the assembly on the fatal day. The BJP has been trying to reach out to the disgruntled Congress and JD (S) MLAs to ensure this.
The BJP apparently needs time to achieve this. If the Supreme Court cut short the time given by the governor it will seal the fate of the Yedyurappa government. Reports from Delhi said that the three-judge bench hearing the Congress-JDS petition has already asked the party counsel whether the government can conduct the floor test on Saturday.