New Delhi/ Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy will face the biggest challenge of his Janata Dal (S) -Congress coalition government's 14-month long tenure on Thursday after the Supreme Court ruled that the sixteen Congress and JD(S) legislators who had resigned could not be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing Assembly session.
The ruling opened the doors for a return to power of the BJP, with sources close to the state party chief B.S. Yeddyurappa who was seen propitiating the gods on Wednesday, claiming that the former chief minister could be sworn in as early as July 21 as he commands the loyalty of 105 legislators and two independents.
A bench of the top court said in its much awaited three-page order: "We make it clear that until further orders, the 15 members of the Assembly ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the proceedings or opt to remain out of the same."
In effect, any whip issued by the ruling Congress or JD(S) to force the rebels participate in the Assembly proceedings and support the coalition government when the confidence motion is put to vote, cannot be enforced.
In such a situation, the opposition BJP, which has the support of 107 MLAs (105 of its own and two Independents), enjoys a clear edge over the JD(S)-Congress coalition which has seen its numbers fall from 118 to 101 (which includes the Speaker). Of the sixteen MLAs who resigned, 13 are from the Congress and three from JD(S).
Only fifteen approached the top court seeking an early decision on their resignations, with former home minister Ramalinga Reddy being the lone MLA who did not. However, in a case of too little too late, Mr. Reddy met the Speaker and withdrew his resignation, late Wednesday, boosting the coalition numbers to 102, amid speculation that both parties had stepped up efforts to woo some of their members back. Ramalinga Reddy's withdrawal is unlikely to change the fate of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government as it was still short of four to reach the magic number of 105. BJP has 107 including the support of two independent legislators.
Ramalinga back: Too late?
Congress leaders have succeeded in convincing BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy to withdraw his resignation on the eve of trust vote being sought by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. But his withdrawal is unlikely to change the fate of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government as it is still short of four to reach the magic number of 105. BJP has 107 including the support of two independent legislators, for now....