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‘Will Listen Only to My Baba and...’ How Karnataka Speaker Will Decide Fate of Congress-JDS Govt

A Congress veteran, Ramesh Kumar said he would cease to be a Congressman the minute he enters the speaker's chamber in Karnataka Assembly.


Updated:July 9, 2019, 7:29 PM IST

Bengaluru: Charged with the unenviable task of deciding the fate of the Karnataka government, Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday said he was prepared to take “tough decisions” on the resignations tendered by 14 Congress and JD(S) MLAs. He added that he would listen only to two entities - “my people and my baba”.

Kumar, who is returning to work after an extended weekend break, said his decision would reflect impartiality.

“I am from a middle class family, I have been moulded by my people, so there is nothing that is tough for me. I will be calm and level-headed, and do what is expected by the Constitution and law,” Kumar said.

“I haven't spoken to rebels. They aren’t my relatives and didn't ask me before leaving,” he added.

The Congress veteran also made it clear that his political affiliation won’t colour his decision. “I am not a Congressmen the minute I enter the Speaker's chamber. I will act judiciously in an unbiased manner, there is no question of party affairs. Nobody can mount pressure on me except for my people and my baba. He will guide me,” he said.

Buying time for the ruling coalition on Tuesday, the Speaker said he would take a call on the resignations only after meeting the rebel MLAs. According to constitutional experts, the Speaker has the following options:

- He can call each MLA and accept their resignations. The HD Kumaraswamy government will then lose majority, forcing the Governor to act.

- The Speaker can delay his decision on the resignations and issue notices to all MLAs.

- He can even reject all resignations. The 14 MLAs will have the option of moving court to challenge him.

- Kumar can even disqualify all MLAs under the anti-defection law. Again, the MLAs can go to court.

All Karnataka ministers had quit on Monday to give a free hand to Kumaraswamy to reshuffle his Cabinet to include rebel MLAs while two Independent legislators also withdrew their support.

There was no immediate word from the rebel camp on the move to reshuffle the Cabinet in a bid to save the wobbly 13-month-old government as the action shifted to Pune and Goa from Mumbai after 13 dissident MLAs — 10 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) —submitted their resignations to the Assembly Speaker's office.

The two Independent MLAs — H Nagesh and R Shankar — who were made ministers less than a month ago in a bid to give stability to the government resigned and extended support to the BJP, as resort politics returned to haunt the crisis-hit coalition.

Amid an allegation by Congress leader DK Shivakumar that the BJP 'hijacked' Nagesh, all eyes were on Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who is expected to examine on Tuesday the resignations by the 13 MLAs submitted to him on Saturday that triggered the latest political crisis in the state.

The ruling coalition faces the threat of losing its majority if the resignations are accepted.

The JD(S)-Congress coalition's total strength after Nagesh and Shankar withdrew support is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1) besides the Speaker. 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.

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