Bengaluru: Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday delayed his decision on the resignation of 14 rebel MLAs who have dragged the Congress-JD(S) coalition to the brink of collapse.
Asked whether the resignations submitted to his office were acceptable, Kumar hinted that the MLAs might have to personally hand them in and told reporters, "Then I am not required at all. If everything can happen through postal correspondence, I am not required at all."
Kumar added that every step he takes will become history and that he cannot afford to make any mistakes.
The party MLAs, along with two independent MLAs, are said to be camping somewhere in Maharashtra and have most likely switched their loyalty to the BJP.
Ahead of the assembly session from July 12, the Speaker's decision on the resignation letters holds great value as it will decide the future of the shaky coalition government led by H D Kumaraswamy.
With the support of the two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 103. The speaker also has a vote.
Asserting that he will go through the rule book, the speaker said he will consult seniors about the developments, whether the resignations can be accepted or was a different course of action needed.
"Future generations should not look at me like an accused," Kumar added.
Questioned on whether the Congress legal cell had written to him that the resignations should not be accepted, Kumar said he has not seen the letter yet. "I left office on Saturday. I came only today. Whichever cell has written, I have to go through it now," he told journalists at the Vidhana Soudha.
"Whether I will decide it today or in the next two hours, doing it two years later… These are all irrelevant questions to me. I have to respond to the sentiments of the people."
Kumar added that he must understand the helplessness of the people of the state, the feeling of general public, look at the provisions of constitution, the rule book and the spirit and interpretation of the law.
"Then I must act as a man with clear conscience and I am going to do that."
The speaker said he held an office which was responsible and important.
"I come from a very ordinary background but I am occupying a very important place. I cannot be doing injustice. I cannot bring dishonour and disgrace to the office I hold," Kumar said.
As questions mount on the future of the government in Karnataka, the BJP said there was every likelihood of the process of accepting the resignation being delayed through some ulterior ways.
Shiggaon BJP MLA Basavaraj Bommai said there was scarcely any scope of not accepting the resignations of the MLAs.
"When the MLAs have resigned, how can you disqualify them? Hence, there is no question of rejecting the resignation letter. The copy of the letter submitted to the governor is in accordance with the Constitution. It is only a futile attempt of Congress and JD(S) to bypass the constitution to stay in power," Bommai told reporters.
The BJP MLA, however, expressed his faith in the speaker and said that he would take a decision in accordance with law.
The 13 dissident MLAs — 10 of the Congress and 3 of the JD(S) — submitted their resignations to the speaker's office on Saturday.