Karnataka Political Crisis: Speaker Says Under No Obligation To Accept MLA Resignations
As the Karnataka political crisis continued for a fourth day, State Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday said almost all MLA resignations so far were in the proper format, but he was under "no obligation" to act in haste until he was convinced that they were genuine and voluntary.
Asserting that he will abide by the rules, Kumar said he will take a "just decision which may be of convenience to some and inconvenience to some".
Ten rebel Karnataka MLAs, who were camping in Mumbai, arrived in Bengaluru on two special flights, hours after the Supreme Court allowed them to meet the Assembly Speaker to convey their decision to resign. The MLAs boarded a luxury bus from the Hindustan Aeronautics airport and proceeded towards the Vidhana Soudha.
"The MLAs had come, they said they want to resign, I said they can give (resignations)...they asked me to accept it. It cannot be like that I will have to see whether it is genuine or voluntary and be convinced," Kumar said.
After submitting their resignations, the MLAs flew back to Mumbai.
Like the Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) too swiftly moved to disqualify its three rebel MLAs—AH Vishwanath, K Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda—but the Speaker said he cannot take cognisance of the JD(S)'s petition to disqualify the legislators as it was not filed in the proper format.
Kumar said he has "set aside the petition" by JD(S) leader Ramesh Babu seeking disqualification as he had no locus standi since he was neither leader of their legislative party nor member of the assembly.
"I am delaying because I love this land. I am not acting in haste because I have to convince myself first. I cannot work at a lightning speed. Yes, these resignations are now in the prescribed format, but I have to mull for the whole night whether these were genuine and voluntary and see the definitions of those words," Kumar said.
"I emphasise I am not under anybody’s obligation. My obligation is to the aspirations of the people of the state and the parliamentary democracy."
In response to the Supreme Court’s directive to take a decision quickly, Kumar said he has written to the top court that he was unable to a take a decision in haste because “the constitution has laid down certain procedures and I have given them (disgruntled MLAs) time.”
“I have videographed the entire proceeding. I am sending the video to the Supreme Court registrar,” he said.
Kumar also expressed displeasure over the manner in which the rebel Karnataka MLAs approached Governor Vajubhai Vala and then the Supreme Court to speed up their resignation process.
"The MLAs shouldn’t have sought Supreme Court’s permission to meet me," Kumar said, while insisting that he was neither responsible for the Karnatak political crisis nor what its outcome would be.
Earlier, Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dinesh Gundu Rao appeared met the Speaker in connection with the petition on disqualification of the rebel MLAs.
The Congress, however, did not move any petition against seven-time MLA Ramalinga Reddy, and said he was an "exception".
The resignations of 16 Karnataka MLAs—13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S)—have pushed the coalition government to the brink of collapse. Two independent MLAs have also withdrawn support. The disgruntled Congress MLAs maintained that they have not quit the party and have only resigned from the Assembly.
If the resignations are accepted, the Congress-JD(S) tally in the Karnataka Assembly will reduce to 100. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 107 members in the House. The half-way mark for a majority is 113 MLAs.