New Delhi: The ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition in Karnataka lived to fight another day, but faces an uncertain future after Governor Vajubhai Vala directed Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to prove his majority in the state assembly before 1.30 pm on Friday.
The decision was announced after Vala observed that the resignations of 15 MLAs of the ruling combine and the withdrawal of support by two independents "prima facie" indicated that Kumaraswamy has lost the confidence of the House.
"Though a message as contemplated under article 175 (2) is sent to the Speaker, I'm informed that the House is adjourned today. Under these circumstances, I request you to prove your majority on the floor of the House on or before 1:30 pm tomorrow (Friday)," Vala said in a letter to Kumaraswamy.
BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa said his party members would stay put in the House overnight. "We will stay until the trust vote is decided," he said after the BJP, exasperated over the delay in taking up the voting, rushed a delegation to Governor Vala to ask Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to conclude the trust vote process by the end of Thursday.
Photographs showed BJP lawmakers dressed in their night clothes and armed with pillows and bedsheets camping inside the Vidhan Soudha in the state capital on Thursday night.
The trust vote to decide the fate of the 14-month old coalition government not take place on Thursday after the Assembly was adjourned till the next day amid acrimonious exchanges that culminated in members of the opposition BJP starting an overnight 'dharna' inside the House.
Earlier in the day, Kumaraswamy moved the motion of confidence in the House. However, 20 lawmakers failed to turn up for the proceedings – these included 17 from the ruling coalition, 12 of whom are camping in a hotel in Mumbai -- as the House debated the motion in a surcharged atmosphere.
Kumaraswamy said the rebel MLAs had cast doubts about the coalition government across the country and "we have to tell the truth"
"The entire nation is watching the developments unfolding in Karnataka," he said. As soon as the motion was moved, Yeddyurappa stood up and said the trust vote process should be completed in a single day.
The House witnessed three adjournments, acrimony and repeated disruptions by slogan-shouting Congress members before the proceedings were called off up for the day.
Adding to the worries of the ruling coalition, Congress MLA Shreemant Patil was absent from the House amid reports that he has been admitted to a Mumbai hospital.
At one point, Congress members carrying pictures of Patil rushed towards the well of the House and shouting anti-BJP slogans.
The parties traded charges after the Congress alleged that Patil had been “kidnapped” as part of efforts to 'topple' the coalition government.
The Congress MLAs said the lawmakers were living in fear and Patil was kidnapped, kept in a room, taken by a special flight and then admitted to a hospital.
Senior minister DK Shivakumar said they would produce documents to show that Patil was forcibly admitted to the hospital to skip assembly.
But Patil, in a video message on a social networking site later, said no one had kidnapped him.
BSP MLA Mahesh also did not show up amid reports he was keeping away as he has not received any directions from party leader Mayawati on the stand to be taken on the trust vote.
After Kumaraswamy sought the trust vote, Congress Legislature Party(CLP) leader Siddaramaiah pressed for deferring the confidence motion till the Speaker decided on the issue of whip in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict on the political crisis in the state.
Siddaramaiah said the 15 rebel MLAs who approached the court were influenced by its order that they can abstain from attending the Assembly proceedings and asked the Speaker to give a ruling on the fate of whip issued by him as the CLP leader.
"If this motion is taken up, then it will not be constitutional. It violates constitutional provisions. I request you to defer it. I want your ruling on this point of order," Siddaramaiah said.
The Speaker then said he would consult the state advocate general and adjourned the House for lunch.
(With inputs from agencies)