Stage is set for the keenly-awaited trial of strength in Karnataka Assembly on Saturday afternoon where in the BJP government of B S Yeddyurappa will have to pass the floor test even as on the face value, the saffron party camp is still short of seven MLAs.
The floor test and one day special session have been convened after the Supreme Court on Friday
ordered for an immediate floor test for Chief Minister Yeddyurappa who was sworn in on Thursday and was given 15-day time to prove majority.
“We were ready to prove majority from the word go. We have more than the required number to sail through the floor test. We are looking forward to proving our mandate tomorrow. To all those doubting the strength of our mandate, we just have one thing to say: Wait and watch,” BJP Karnataka tweeted.
But JD(S) and Congress are exuding confidence that there is no chance of desertion in their respective camps.
The Congress claimed that of the 78 MLAs, 77 of them attended a meeting in Hyderabad on Friday evening.
The apex court’s order after taking cognizance of a plea by Congress-JD(S) alliance – who are claiming support of 116 MLAs – five more than the magic number of 111 – has definitely made BJP’s task to manage the numbers in such a short spell more difficult.
However, the BJP camp has remained upbeat with Mr Yeddyurappa himself claiming that he was 100 per cent sure of the numbers. Union Minister Prakash Javdekar, who was BJP poll in charge for recently held elections, also echoed the same line while Mr Yeddyurappa’s trusted colleague and BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje also said the BJP has requisite numbers.
“We will win the trial of strength,” said Mr Javadekar but he did not commit about numbers.
Saturday’s trial of strength for Mr Yeddyurappa would be fifth floor test by the veteran Lingayat leader, who was certainly instrumental in more ways than one besides the success of ‘Modi Magic’ for taking BJP’s tally from 40 to 104.
The political drama of Saturday would be still dependent on yet another round of legal battle as the Congress-JD(S) alliance has sought court’s intervention on the appointment of K G Bopaiah as the Protem Speaker.
The Congress and JD(S) want senior-most MLA to be named as Protem Speaker though the BJP argument is Mr Bopaiah was Protem Speaker in 2008 too and thus the opposition parties were only raising a non issue.
Mr Bopaiah had also given a favourable verdict to the then Chief Minister Yeddyurappa on a disqualification plea of MLAs in 2011 and the move had earned rebuke of the Supreme Court too.
Former Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj had termed appointment of Mr Bopaiah as the Protem Speaker as erroneous.
However, the BJP sources are confident of proving the numbers and party insiders suggest in 2008 too with 110 MLAs, it faced similar challenge and hand managed the numbers.
But the ‘number management’ then was code named ‘Operation Kamala’ under which some opposition Congress MLAs “voluntarily” resigned from the original party and voted for Mr Yeddyurappa.
Under the Tenth Schedule, an elected legislator attracts disqualification if he leaves the party on whose symbol he/she was elected or even if he defies the party whip.
But the disqualification order in the ultimate has to come from the Speaker’s office, who enjoys quasi judicial powers.
The Speaker’s decision is often considered critical and no past precedence or convention can be cited to influence the presiding officer (Speaker’s) decision.
There have been many past instances wherein Speaker’s decisions have been partisan and highly controversial.
In northeastern state of Manipur in 1990s, Speaker H Borobabu Singh had often brushed aside the ruling of Gauhati High Court and also was caught in legal wrangling with the Supreme Court. (UNI)