Speaker sets 6 p.m. Tuesday deadline for vote after debates go on till close to midnight
Five days after the motion of confidence was moved by Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, a vote in the Assembly was yet again deferred by a day after a heated debate continued till close to midnight on Monday.
Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar set 6 p.m. on Tuesday as the deadline to complete the voting, amid angry objections by the BJP.
Through the day, leaders of the ruling Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) coalition sought a postponement of the vote till the Supreme Court heard the pending petitions and the Speaker decided on the resignation and disqualification of the rebel MLAs. Earlier in the evening, the Speaker served notice on the 15 rebel MLAs, asking them to appear before him on Tuesday in connection with the disqualification petitions. The Supreme Court, which refused to hear a petition by two Independent MLAs seeking a direction for a floor test by the end of the day, posted the case for Tuesday. Former Minister H.K. Patil argued it would not be proper to take up voting when the court was seized of the matter. The coalition leaders also argued that the Speaker’s ruling, on a point of order raised by CLP leader Siddaramaiah, that the legislature parties had a right to issue whip to its members, had to be taken into account now. Earlier in the day, speaking on the motion, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda cited audio tapes of alleged conversations between rebel MLAs, their family members and the BJP leaders, media reports and photographs to allege that the 15 rebels were enticed with money and ministership. He argued that there was enough material evidence to show that the resignations were neither “voluntary” nor “genuine.” Mr Gowda said this was part of a larger “design” of the saffron party which has engineered defections in states such as Goa and West Bengal. He said that the BJP “had blood on its hands.”