Though the current drama may have reached its denouement with BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa winning the trust vote and becoming chief minister for the four time, the curtains have certainly not fallen yet. The battle has gone to court.
Three of the 17 rebel MLAs who were disqualified by then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar– 14 of them just a day before the trust vote– have moved the Supreme Court, seeking to get their disqualification set aside. They have also challenged the Speaker’s decision to reject their resignation.
The rebels claim that they had resigned, but the Speaker didn’t accept their resignations. Instead he played politics and disqualified them under the anti-defection law.
They are challenging the Speaker’s decision because the disqualification under the anti-defection law stands in the way of their joining the Yediyurappa government.
Ramesh Kumar says he had given a chance to the rebel MLAs to convince him that their resignations were genuine and voluntary, but they did not appear before him.
The rebels say the Speaker seems to have not been sensitive to their issues as MLAs and also came to a decision in a terrible hurry when they had sought four weeks time to appear before him.
They say the order was bad in law, done with malafide intention, and not in line with principles of natural justice and was illegal.
On his part, Ramesh Kumar has justified his swift action, saying the Yediyurappa government had sought to pass the Finance Bill as the vote on account of the previous government was to end on July 31. When he was told that the rebels intend to go to the Supreme Court to challenge his decision, Ramesh Kumar had said that they can even go to the international court for what he cares.
But the moment Yediyurappa came to power, he resigned in anticipation that he would be dismissed. The matter is now in court.
In the Assembly, Yediyurappa won the trust vote with the support of 10 6 MLAs, of which 105 belonged to his own party, the BJP, and one was an Independent.
The irony was that the disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs, which triggered the downfall of the JD (S)- Congress coalition government led by H D Kumaraswamy, was responsible for Yediyurappa winning the trust vote as their disqualification reduced the effective strength of the House to 208, thus reducing the simple majority to 105– equal to BJP’s strength in the House.
Yediyurappa has now more then three years left to make good of his promise and of what is left.
But why is such drama being played in Karnataka again and again?
Perhaps it is in the genetics of its politics or its politicians.
Or perhaps in the way the BJP has been going about its work after its claim to power 14 months ago was nixed, despite being the single largest party.
Or perhaps in the genesis of the coalition government that came to power after the Assembly elections, with the Congress joining hands with the JD (S) to keep the BJP out.
The rift in the coalition appeared after the first major Cabinet reshuffle in December 2018 and then intensified when disagreement surfaced over seat-sharing. It aggravated after the defeat of H.D. Deve Gowda in Tumakuru and Deve Gowda apparently complaining to then Congress president Rahul Gandhi, blaming congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah for the defeat.
Then there were ego clashes between leaders of both parties, and cracks appeared within the alliance when chief minister Kumaraswamy inducted two Independents into his ministry, only for them to quit a few weeks later. The induction of the Independents caused resentment not only among legislators aspiring to become ministers but also among many senior MLAs. And so finally many resigned.
They were whisked away to Mumbai and put up in a hotel. They did not attend the Assembly. Pre-emptying a no-confidence motion against him, Kumaraswamy moved a confidence motion, only to see it defeated and end his 14-month rule. But the drama is not over yet. The court may go either way. In case it upholds the disqualification of the MLAs, the State will have byelections. But the verdict may not come that fast. It can be a prolonged litigation.
Just wait for more drama because Karnataka is a State of unending saga.