Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Karnataka crisis: Yeddyurappa parades 122 MLAs, says 'majority proved'

New Delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has met President Pratibha Patil and has paraded 122 MLAs before her to prove that he has the numbers in the Assembly.

The Karnataka Governor issued a press communique soon after defending his decision to recommend President's Rule in the state.

Emerging from the meeting, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said they had also requested the President to recall Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj. Mr Gadkari said Governor Bhardwaj's "action was unconstitutional", referring to his recommendation that President's Rule be imposed in Karnataka. Mr Gadkari pointed out that Mr Yeddyurappa "has the support of 122 MLAs" in the 225-seat Assembly.

The BJP has kept up the pressure it has built over the last two days on Mr Bhardwaj, with top leaders leaving no stone unturned to ensure that its only government in the South is saved.

Mr Bhardwaj had sent a report over the weekend recommending President's Rule in the state. (Read: Governor recommends President's Rule) The Centre, sources say, is inclined to reject Mr Bhardwaj's report, which is also being seen as a hasty act that has caused some embarrassment.

Mr Bhardwaj, who celebrates his birthday today, stayed indoors at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.

The Supreme Court order

The Karnataka Governor's suggestion over the weekend that President's Rule be imposed in the state was based on the Supreme Court order of last Friday, which said that 16 MLAs were disqualified incorrectly by the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly ahead of a crucial vote of confidence that Mr Yeddyurappa narrowly survived last year. (Read: Major jolt for Yeddyurappa from Supreme Court)

The 16 MLAs include 11 from the BJP and five Independents who had supported the government, but in October 2010 said they would not support the Chief Minister during his trust vote. They were disqualified by the Speaker under anti-defection laws. This weekend, the BJP MLAs made it clear that they were backing their party. (Read: Karnataka: BJP wins over 11 rebel MLAs)

The Supreme Court, in its order of last week, had made some strong observations about the role of the Speaker and the Chief Minister in the process of disqualification of the MLAs.

"Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside. The Speaker, in our view, proceeded in the matter as if he was required to meet the deadline set by the Governor, irrespective of whether, in the process, he was ignoring the constitutional norms set out in the Tenth Schedule and the Disqualification Rules, 1986, and in contravention of the basic principles that go hand in hand with the concept of a fair hearing," the court said.

"There was no compulsion on the Speaker to decide the disqualification application filed by Mr. Yeddyurappa in such a great hurry within the time specified by the Governor to conduct a vote of confidence in the government headed by Mr. Yeddyurappa. It would appear that such a course of action was adopted by the Speaker on October 10, 2010, since the vote of confidence was slated for October 12, 2010. The element of hot haste is also evident in the action of the Speaker. The procedure adopted by the Speaker seems to indicate that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the Governor for the trial of strength and to ensure that the appellants and other independent MLAs stood disqualified prior to the date on which the floor test was to be held," the court added.

Yeddyurappa's Delhi darshan

The visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan rounded off a busy day in Delhi for Mr Yeddyurappa. First on his agenda on Tuesday was a visit, he said, to party patriarch LK Advani's house "to take his blessings...Evening we will go and meet honorable President of India," he said. Mr Yeddyurappa arrived in Delhi late last night and met BJP president Nitin Gadkari and other senior party leaders.

While slamming the Governor for what they called his "unconstitutional action", both Mr Yeddyurappa and Mr Gadkari made a jibe apiece at the cost of Mr Bhardwaj. The BJP president said, "Instead of Governor, he should work as special invitee of the AICC. He should come here and work for the party."

Mr Yeddyurappa "complimented" Mr Bhardwaj for helping unite BJP. "Bhardwaj is helping us to unite and strengthen our party. I compliment him for that," he said.

On Monday, the BJP-led NDA also met the Prime Minister and, led by senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, demanded the immediate recall of the Governor. Mr. Advani said, "The Prime Minister assured us that nothing unconstitutional will be done in Karnataka.


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