New Delhi: Following the chaos in the Karnataka Assembly over the trust vote for the BJP government and the consequent recommendation of President’s Rule by Governor HR Bhardwaj in the state, the Congress Core Committee met to discuss the situation.
Sources say that Home Minister P. Chidambaram has briefed the core committee on the trust vote and the Governor’s report has also been discussed at the meet. The Congress Core Committee has, by and large, agreed that the day’s events amount to a constitutional farce and that the Congress leadership will stand by the court’s verdict and does not wish to come across as power hungry.
Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson, said that the Speaker’s disqualifying the rebel MLAs was tantamount to “a cold-blooded murder of democracy”.
The BJP government in Karnataka was in fresh trouble on Monday despite surviving a floor test in the Assembly after Governor HR Bhardwaj recommended President’s Rule in the state terming as “unethical” the disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs.
The BJP survived its toughest challenge on Monday as Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa passed a floor test in the Assembly by a voice vote. The win came after the Speaker disqualified 16 rebel MLAs, followed by chaos in House.
But Bhardwaj recommended President’s Rule in the state terming the disqualification of Independent MLAs as unethical and wrong.
The Governor’s report says the situation in the state is right for President Rule.
Meanwhile, the drama in Karnataka, the state with the first-ever BJP government in south India, is far from over. The disqualified MLAs have challenged the trust vote in the Karnataka High Court. The Opposition paraded its strength before the Governor who assured them of acting on their demands.
The Karnataka HC will hear the case Tuesday morning at 10:30. Veteran lawyer Soli Sorabjee will appear on behalf of the CM and defend the decision to disqualify 16 MLAs.
In New Delhi, the Congress Core Committee is meeting, followed by a Union Cabinet meet, to discuss the crisis.
The Union Home ministry has expressed concern over the developments in Karnataka. Sources told CNN-IBN the disqualification could be an abuse of the anti-defection law. Questions are being raised over the Speaker's use of the Anti-Defection Act to disqualify 16 rebel MLAs from voting.
Speaker K G Bopaiah disqualified 11 BJP and five Independent MLAs from the Karnataka Assembly under anti-defection Act in response to Yeddyurappa's petition.
Opposition Congress and JDS MLAs protested inside and outside the House, demanding a division of votes. They alleged the entire process was illegal and that the Speaker has misused his chair. Opposition MLAs are now protesting outside the Raj Bhawan demanding a head count.
But Yeddyurappa, after winning the trust vote, has demanded the immediate removal of Governor H R Bharadwaj saying he can't work with him.
Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy said they would demand the dismissal of the BJP government. "Yeddyurappa has not won the trust vote. He has lost the majority. He has misused the Speaker. They took a voice vote and ran out of the House," said Kumaraswami.
“We are not planning to form an alternative government. If Congress comes forward with a proposal we will discuss and then take a call,” he said, demanding that the Speaker step down.
Karnataka state Congress chief D V Shiva Kumar said: "The House was not conducted, the policemen were inside the House. Within a minute the Speaker left. We will go with all the MLAs for the headcount in front of the Governor."
"This will not be accepted by any authority. We have the support of a 118 MLAs - JDS, Congress and Independents. They will all go to the Governor and demand the dismissal of this corrupt government," he added.
But Karnataka power minister Shobha Karandlaje says they are all very happy to get the majority. "The Opposition did not allow us to count the head. Let the Opposition MLAs parade to the Governor," Karandlaje hit back.
State Youth Congress president Krishna Byregowda, who was in the House, termed the vote a fraud, saying: "The Speaker took the decision. I am speechless. If the government had majority they should have allowed a vote. It is a fraud, mockery of democracy."
"The police cannot walk into the House. We will go to the Governor and the whole country will see the numbers that we have," he added.
However, the BJP leaders are unfazed. Nirmala Seetaraman says: "Now we should highlight how the Congress adopted all means to disrupt a democratic set up. We will sort out our problems. The fact is that the Congress and the JDS have played into the hands of the Governor who played as a Congress representative."
"We know how to keep the house on order, this time it was a clear conspiracy," Seetaraman added.
State BJP president Dhanajay Kumar said, "As per the provisions of the Constitution, the Assembly has its own rules. The Speaker declared the members present in the House have voted for the government. That cannot be questioned."
The Assembly secretary had issued an order banning the entry of the disqualified MLAs into the Assembly. He has instructed the police to not allow them inside. The notice has been pasted on all three entry points of the Assembly.
There was chaos inside and outside the Karnataka Assembly ahead of the trust vote as some rebel MLAs tried to force their entry into the House. They also staged a dharna outside the Assembly.
Yeddyurappa was forced to face a trust vote and prove his majority after rebel MLAs, including 14 BJP members, withdrew support, reducing the party's strength to less than half in the 224 strong House.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said the very spirit of Indian Constitution was massacred by Monday’s events inside the Assembly. The media was not allowed inside the House.