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Karnataka crisis: Supreme Court nudges Speaker to act on rebel MLAs’ resignations

FE Online

Karnataka crisis: The Supreme Court on Thursday indicated that the Karnataka Assembly Speaker needs to decide quickly on the resignations of 10 rebel legislators from the Congress and JD(S) and asked the MLAs to appear before KR Ramesh and submit their resignations in person. The apex court was today hearing a petition challenging the Karnataka Speaker’s decision rejecting the resignations of rebel MLAs from Congress and JD(S).

The MLAs are likely to meet the Speaker at around 6pm today. The decision of the Speaker will have to be placed before the court tomorrow when the matter will be heard again.

Appearing for rebel MLAs, Mukul Rohatgi while addressing the media said: "All the 10 rebel MLAs will fly down from Mumbai to Karnataka today. The legislators will appear before the Speaker and resign at 6 PM today. The Speaker has been directed to pass an order on the resignation today itself. The copy of the order will be submitted before the apex court tomorrow." He also said that the Karnataka DGP has been directed to provide police protection to all 10 rebel MLAs after they land Bengaluru.

Ten of 15 legislators who have resigned from their parties moved the apex court seeking direction to the Speaker to accept their resignations instead of threatening them with disqualification. The MLAs who have filed the petition are Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil, Byrati Basavaraj, ST Somashekar, BC Patil, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, K Gopalaiah, Mahesh Kumathalli, HD Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda.

The move comes as a setback for the Congress-JDS alliance as the SC’s directions make it imperative for the Speaker to decide on the matter. Keeping the resignations in abeyance could have worked in favour of the alliance as it needs to have the numbers when the Assembly session begins on Friday.

The Speaker had rejected their resignations saying that they were not in accordance with the law. He asked all the rebel MLAs to appear before him and hand over their resignations in person. Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah had warned them to come back to the party or face disqualification. He said that the BJP was behind their move and they can be disqualified on the ground of anti-party activity under the Anti Defection Law.

These MLAs with their resignations have pushed the coalition government on the brink of collapse. Before their resignations, the Congress had 79 MLAs and JDS 37. Both the parties with outside support of BSP have formed the government in the state. The BJP has 105 MLAs in 224-member House. The Speaker is delaying the process because if he accepts the resignations, the total strength of the coalition government will come down from 117 to 102, a number that will be lower than the BJP’s 105.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Anand Sharma today held protest in front of Gandhi statue in Parliament. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi while speaking to ANI said: "We are protesting against Karnataka and Goa issue." In Goa, 10 Congress MLAs have deserted the grand old party and decided to merge with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).