Bengaluru: The government formation exercise in Karnataka was yet to take off on Wednesday as the state BJP looked to the central leadership for its go-ahead to stake claim to provide an alternative after the collapse of the Congress-JDS coalition ministry in a confidence vote.
A day after the exit of the HD Kumaraswamy government, the BJP showed no hurry to stake claim to form the next government as the number game may not be done with both the resignations of rebel Congress and JDS MLAs and the pleas for their disqualification still pending with Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.
The 14-month old Congress-JDS government collapsed on Tuesday after losing the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy in the Assembly after a struggle for power for three weeks, with several political twists and turns and a legal battle following the resignation of 15 rebel MLAs.
In the trial of strength, Kumaraswamy had garnered 99 votes against the 105 by the BJP, with the ruling coalition swept out of power by a big chunk of its lawmakers who refused to back out and skipped voting on confidence motion.
Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa, the likely chief minister candidate, said he was awaiting instructions from his party's central leadership on staking a claim to form an alternative government.
"I'm awaiting instructions from Delhi. I can call legislature party meeting any time and go to Raj Bhavan (to stake claim). I'm waiting for it," he told reporters after meeting RSS leaders at its state headquarters "Keshava Krupa" here.
Neither the BJP Parliamentary Board met in New Delhi to give the go ahead to Yeddyurappa on government formation nor the Legislature Party meeting here that was expected by the party state leaders happened on Wednesday.
Senior BJP legislator JC Madhuswamy said, "Party national president Amit Shah has to instruct us to call a legislature party meeting in the presence of an observer to elect the leader. Things have to go democratically as ours is a national party, so we are waiting for instructions from them, after that, an appointment with the Governor will be sought."
According to BJP sources, the party's leadership was waiting for the Speaker's decision on the resignations and disqualification petitions against rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs before staking a claim to form an alternative government.
"There is no indication yet from the party leadership.. speculation only in the media. Party leadership may be waiting for the Speaker to decide on resignations of rebel MLAs to avoid any embarrassment in the future," a senior BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
With their resignations still to be accepted, the 15 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) have sought a month's time to appear before the Speaker in connection with the plea for their disqualification from the state Assembly.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar said proceedings were on regarding disqualification petition. "I go by law. Nothing but Constitution and law," he said. "Lawyers had come and have said what they have to say on behalf of their clients (MLAs), I have heard them. I will go through, according to law I will decide."
Asked if he has he given any fresh timeline to the MLAs to appear, he said, "Every thing was over. They are also satisfied, I'm also satisfied."
The Congress and the JD(S) have sought disqualification under the anti-defection law of the rebel lawmakers who, however, were undeterred and skipped Assembly proceedings during the crucial confidence vote on Tuesday. The anti-defection law doesn't specify a time period for the Speaker to decide on disqualification plea.
A disqualified member loses the seat and the punitive action forestalls prospects of becoming a minister in the newly sworn-in government, but he or she can get re-elected to the House.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in its order last Wednesday gave the Assembly Speaker the freedom to decide on the resignation of the MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him.
A day after the collapse of its government, uncertainty loomed large over the future of the Congress-JDS alliance as outgoing chief minister and JDS suremo HD Deve Gowda's son HD Kumaraswamy remained non-committal on the the issue, saying both parties have not yet discussed it.
Responding to a question on continuing alliance with the Congress, he said, "Let us see...I don't know.I don't know about the stand of Congress leaders for the future. We have not discussed anything yet."
Kumaraswamy, who is also the JDS Legislature Party leader, said Congress leaders had not discussed the issue with them. "They are very free, and we are also very free. If the coalition works out and if they want we will join hands with them. Otherwise we will work ourselves and strengthen our party," he said.
In response to a question whether he has regrets forming the coalition, Kumaraswamy said, "Whatever issues we have taken, there is no regret."
The Congress and the JD(S), considered arch rivals, especially in the Mysuru region, had united to form the coalition government after the May 2018 assembly polls threw up a hung verdict.
Both parties faced a rout in the recent Lok Sabha polls, winning just one seat each out of the total 28 in the state, as grassroot level workers of both parties were not happy with the alliance. The BJP swept the polls, winning 25 seats, while an Independent backed by it won one.
Congress leaders also held discussions on Wednesday, which were attended by KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao, CLP leader Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, and other senior leaders. In the meeting, they discussed the prospects of the rebel MLAs and how to organise the party in the future, Rao said.
"There is no question of taking back the rebels, they have betrayed us by helping BJP," he said.
On the continuation of the alliance, Rao said the issue would be decided by the high command and "we will have to follow what the high command says".
(With inputs from PTI)