Yediyurappa wins trust vote easily; Speaker resigns

PTI
Monday, 29 July 2019

"One stage is over, BJP has won the floor test. Next course is cabinet expansion. Our senior leaders both at the state and the Centre will sit together and decide on it at theearliest," senior BJP leader and MLA Suresh Kumar said.

BENGALURU: The three-day old BJP government in Karnataka headed by B S Yediyurappa on Monday proved its majority, sailing through the confidence motion smoothly in the truncated Assembly, ending a month-long political turbulence in the state.

A day after disqualifying 14 more rebel MLAs in a parting shot on the trust vote eve, paving the way for an easy run for the BJP, Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar announced his resignation soon after Yediyurappa won the confidence motion in a process lasting less than an hour after the House met.

With the BJP comfortably placed in the numbers game after the disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs, including three earlier, that reduced the effective strength of the House, the opposition Congress and JDS did not press for division.

After brief speeches by Yediyurappa while moving the one-line motion expressing confidence in the Ministry headed by him, and by JD(S) and Congress leaders, the Speaker took up the trust vote and declared that it has been carried by voice vote amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches.

On Sunday, the Speaker had disqualified 11 Congress MLAs and three JDS lawmakers till the end of the current term of the House in 2023, bringing down the majority mark to 105, equivalent to the current strength of 105 of the BJP, which also enjoyed the support of an Independent.

The Congress has 66 members, JDS 34, the Speaker one (who has a casting vote in case of a tie) and one expelled BSP member who was thrown out of the party for violating its directive to support the H D Kumaraswamy government during the trust vote on July 23.

Yediyurappa was sworn in as Chief Minister for a fourth time on Friday in a sudden twist to the protracted high voltage political drama in the state with a big challenge to manage numbers staring him in the face.

He succeeded H D Kumaraswamy three days after the Congress-JDS coalition government crumbled under the weight of a rebellion by a big chunk of its lawmakers, 20 of whom were absent for the voting that led to the defeat of its trust vote by 99-105.

In 2018, Yediyurappa survived barely for three days before quitting as Chief Minister in May, unable to shore up numbers to get the majority despite the BJP having emerged as the single largest party in the 2018 assembly polls that threw up a hung verdict, leading to the Congress-JDS rule.

With Yediyurappa proving the majority, the next focus is on cabinet expansion, which is likely to be completed by end this week, senior BJP leaders said.

"One stage is over, BJP has won the floor test. Next course is cabinet expansion. Our senior leaders both at the state and the Centre will sit together and decide on it at theearliest," senior BJP leader and MLA Suresh Kumar said.

With the disqualified members losing membership till the end of the current term of the assembly in 2023, the pressure on Yediyurappa to reward the rebels with ministerial berths has eased.

The Speaker had said on Thursday while announcing action against three rebels that a disqualified member cannot contest or get elected until the expiry of the term of the House, a contention strongly contested by the BJP, rebels and many legal experts.

The rebel MLAs can pin hopes on the Supreme Court reversing the Speaker's ruling and allowing them to contest a by-election to get re-elected to become a minister.

As was also expected on Monday, the Speaker announced his resignation after a 14-month long tenure in office, amid reports that the BJP was mulling moving a no-confidence motion against him.

"I have decided to relieve myself from this office... I have decided to resign,"Kumar said and handed over his resignation letter to the Deputy Speaker Krishna Reddy.

Kumar said as the Speaker, he had worked according to his "conscience" and in accordance with the Constitution.

"I have upheld the dignity of office to the best of my ability," he added.

Moving the confidence motion, Yediyurappa said he would not indulge in the "politics of vengeance" and believed in the "forget and forgive principle."

He said the administrative machinery had collapsed and his priority was to bring it back on track.

"My becoming the chief minister is according to expectations of the people," said Yediyurappa.

He said he has assumed office in a difficult situation with the state facing a drought.

Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah said the Yediyurappa government was "unconstitutional and immoral" and expressed doubts about its longevity.

"You have no mandate of the people," Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister and Congress Legislature Party leader, told Yediyurappa.

"Where is the mandate in your favour... where is the majority... Yediyurappa has become the chief minister with just 105 members," Siddaramaiah said.

"Let us see how long you will be (the chief minister)... I want you to be (CM) for the full term but I don't think you will be able to complete it (the term)," Siddaramaiah told Yediyurappa.

JDS leader Kumaraswamy took exception to Yediyurappa's charge that the administrative machinery had collapsed and said it was a "baseless" one, that did not behove the chief minister.

"I won't comment on the ways you have come to power," Kumaraswamy said, adding, "you have come to power through conspiracy."

"You have come to power through politics of conspiracy... at least now save democracy," Kumaraswamy told Yediyurappa, adding his party would not try to destabilise the BJP government.

He said the JDS opposed the confidence motion as BJP had come to power through "unconstitutional means."

The House also passed the Appropriation Bill, seeking a vote on account for three months and supplementary estimates.

The Finance Bill (Appropriation Bill) needed to be passed "urgently", as otherwise "we will not be able to draw funds even to pay salaries (of government employees)," Yediyurappa had said on Sunday. 

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