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Bangalore in a limbo

Bangalore, Jan. 27: Karnataka faced a potential Constitutional crisis tonight with the Speaker adjourning the Assembly indefinitely after chief minister Dharam Singh repeatedly refused to seek a vote of confidence citing commotion in the House.

With a cloud hanging over his coalition government, which appears to lack the numbers, the Congress chief minister met governor T.N. Chaturvedi late in the night and asked for another shot at a floor test ' preferably on Saturday or Sunday.

But Dharam’s pitch is further queered with Speaker Krishna having controversially recognised rebel Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy as the party’s leader in the House, spurring him to virtually stake claim with his BJP allies close to midnight.

A Dal (S)-BJP team met the governor and requested him to sack Dharam right away and invite the new alliance to form the ministry. They later told reporters Chaturvedi had promised a decision by 4 pm tomorrow and claimed the support of 140 MLAs.

Kumaraswamy’s anointment as Dal (S) House leader was one of the day’s big surprises ' the other being his father H.D. Deve Gowda’s sudden resignation as the party’s national president.

The Speaker’s move set off a rush to the well of the House by livid Congress members, and Dharam seized his chance to turn down Krishna’s requests to move a trust motion.

The chief minister said he couldn’t have a vote till his MLAs were satisfied, prompting Krishna ' who had earlier adjourned the Assembly for 10 minutes ' to now adjourn it sine die (till further notice).

A furious Speaker later had his office send a note to Raj Bhavan detailing the day’s proceedings.

The hopes of the rebels and BJP members were up as soon as Gowda quit his party post, citing his failure to douse the revolt by his son and his band of MLAs.

Till then, the Congress had kept fighting to save its government, offering its coalition partner carrot after carrot, all rejected by the Dal (S) rebels.

Minutes before Dharam left for the Assembly, the Congress made a last-ditch offer: holding out the “Maharashtra model” of power-sharing, with both the crucial home and water resources ministries going to the ally.

But Gowda’s letter was quick to arrive, virtually signalling the end of the road for the Congress. By the time the Speaker crowned Kumaraswamy as Dal (S) House leader, the celebrations in his camp had already begun.

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