The bench took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, who said these lawmakers have already resigned from their membership of the assembly and wanted to contest fresh elections.
He sought the hearing either on Wednesday or Thursday on the plea which has alleged that the Speaker had acted in a partisan and mala fide manner and was deliberately not accepting their resignations.
In the petition, the MLAs alleged that the Speaker was protecting the government which is in minority now.
“We will see,” said the bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, when Rohatgi was pressing for urgent hearing saying “time is the essence” in the matter.
The MLAs further sought a direction that the Speaker be restrained from proceeding with the application for their disqualification.
“Acting in a concerted manner, the Congress party has filed a petition before the Speaker seeking disqualification of the MLAs who have resigned. Needless to state, the disqualification proceedings are completely illegal and without any cause of action,” they said.
Fifteen lawmakers from the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) as well as two Independents have already submitted their resignation to their legislative memberships of the Karnataka assembly. The coalition top brass’s considerable efforts to stop the rebels from moving out appears to have resulted in no gain. After this series of failures, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is likely to soon resign.
While senior leaders of both the Congress and the JDS have tried everything to douse the inferno among the party rebels, nothing has come to their rescue as former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s close associates — ST Somashekhar, Shivaram Hebbar, K Sudhakar, Munirathna, Byrathi Basavaraju and MTB Nagaraj — have also put in their papers.
Two more MLAs — K Sudhakar and MTB Nagaraj — on Wednesday submitted their resignations. So far, 13 Congress lawmakers, three JDS MLAs, and two Independents have quit.
The ruling coalition faces the threat of losing majority in the Assembly if the resignations are accepted as its current tally is 116 in the 224-member House.
According to sources, more resignations can be expected on Thursday, with rebel congress leader Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter, Soumya Reddy, also expected to step down. She is the MLA from Bengaluru’s Jayanagar constituency. Khanapur MLA Anjali Nimbalkar and Chikkodi lawmaker Ganesh Hukkeri are also expected to resign.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress’s troubleshooter DK Shivakumar, who risked everything for his party and flew out to Mumbai on Wednesday, failed to meet the rebels and woo them back to the party fold.
The Mumbai Police prevented Shivakumar and other leaders from entering a five-star hotel in the city where the rebel MLAs were accommodated. Shivakumar and the others were detained after the dissident lawmakers wrote to the police seeking protection from him and other Karnataka coalition leaders.
Shivakumar was forced to wait outside the hotel for more than six hours and was detained, along with Milind Deora, who recently quit as Mumbai Congress president.
After he was released by the police, Shivakumar said that he had gone to the hotel only to meet “friends”.
“I am forcibly pushed to leave Mumbai by the police and I have no option left. But I still believe my friends will come back and the government will be safe. It’s not about politics, it’s about the democratic values and constitution. Democracy is at the risk and it’s a fresh example for that,” he said.
Later, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) filed a complaint stating that rebel MLAs of the party from Karnataka were illegally confined in the hotel.
Condemning the BJP over the detention of his colleagues in Mumbai and for the protest at the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy accused the saffron party of crossing all boundaries of democracy and civil code of conduct. In a strongly-worded statement, he sought to know from the BJP whether it was the polity of democracy or the ugly display of its tyrannical mindset.
“Karnataka has become a laughing stock due to their (BJP’s) behaviour guided by their lust for power. Is it a polity of democracy or an ugly display of its tyrannical mindset?” he asked.
Referring to the BJP’s protest against the alleged detention of another Congress rebel MLA K Sudhakar in the Vidhana Soudha after he resigned, Kumaraswamy said it tarnished the rich political tradition of the state. While the Congress leaders tried in vain to convince the MLA to withdraw his resignation, he stuck to his stand.
Alleging that he was detained by Congress leaders, BJP leaders and MLAs had staged a protest before the police escorted Sudhakar out of the premises. “Mumbai Police have received a complaint from the AICC Wednesday of illegal confinement of rebel Karnataka Congress MLAs at a Powai hotel,” the officer said.
Kumaraswamy alleged that “manhandling ministers and MLAs” by the police “reinforces the suspicion of the BJP being involved in horse-trading”.
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