The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday poured scorn on Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy after the latter asked the Speaker to fix the time for him to take a trust vote on the floor of the Assembly.
"It is mere posturing without the numbers," BJP's spokesman G. Madusudhana told IANS, adding that the saffron party was not all surprised by "Kumaraswamy's bravado" to prove that he has a majority in the Assembly despite resignations of 16 MLAs.
Kumaraswamy, to everyone's surprise, on Thursday, told Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on the first day of the monsoon session that he was ready to face a no-confidence motion to prove he has the majority and asked the latter to fix a date and time for the floor test.
"I leave it to you to decide if I should seek trust-vote or face no-confidence motion on the floor of this House when you fix the date and time," the chief minister told Kumar in Kannada.
Of the 16 rebels, 13 belong to the Congress and 3 Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). Two more Independents, who resigned as ministers on July 8, withdrew support to the ruling allies and pledged to back the BJP when it forms the government again in the southern state.
"When all the rebels have decided not to attend the session, as evident by their absence on Friday, how will Kumaraswamy win the trust vote to prove he has the majority when his ruling combine has been reduced to a minority?" asked Madhusudana.
In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated without voting right, the ruling combine has 100, with 65 of the Congress, 34 of the JD-S and one of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after their 16 rebels resigned, while the BJP has 107, with the support of 2 Independents.
"With the Assembly strength reduced to 209 from 225 in the absence of the 16 rebels, the new halfway mark for a simple majority is 105, while the BJP has 107 against 100 of the ruling allies. How Kumaraswamy can win the trust vote or prove the majority. This is math and not chemistry," Madhusudana said.
The BJP's hunch is the trust-vote move is a bait for the rebels to return or face disqualification by defying a whip that will be issued to all the legislators to be present in the assembly when the motion is put to vote.
The BJP is of the view that the Speaker has to only accept or reject the rebels' resignations by July 16 as directed by the Supreme Court on Friday and not to take up the allies' petition to disqualify them.
"The speaker cannot take up disqualification because the rebels went to the apex court on July 10 for its directive to the speaker to accept their resignations whereas the allies petitioned the speaker for disqualifying them on July 11," recalled the party official.
As the rebels have mentioned in their petition to the top court that they resigned from their assembly segments and not from their parties, the question of disqualification does not arise, as their parties did not give any notice nor was there any whip issued.
"As the case is before the Supreme Court, we don't want to cast aspersions on anyone, especially the Speaker, who sought more time to decide on the resignations. With the court directing him to decide on the resignations by Tuesday (July 16), he has to convey his decision by then and maintain their status quo till a three-judge bench studies his decision.
"Irrespective of the Speaker's decision the apex court's ruling in the case, the fall of the coalition government is imminent after the floor test. The Speaker can disqualify the rebels only after they defy the whip with due notice to them. But when the trust vote is defeated and the government goes, the rebels will challenge the disqualification in courts," added Madhusudana.
With the apex court directing the speaker to maintain status quo till Tuesday, the floor test cannot be conducted till then as the rebels' petition was filed on July 10 and before the parties filed their complaint with the speaker on July 11.
(With inputs from IANS)