Monday, 30th October 2017

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Rebel MLAs thank Supreme Court for ‘permit to abstain’

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the rebel MLAs could not be compelled to attend the House

  • Published 18.07.19, 2:57 AM
  • Updated 18.07.19, 2:57 AM
  • 2 mins read
BS Yeddyurappa at a temple in Bangalore on Wednesday PTI

Karnataka’s 14 rebel MLAs cooped up in a star hotel in Mumbai have made it clear they will skip the trust vote to be moved by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday, and have thanked the Supreme Court “wholeheartedly” for allowing them to do so.

“We will not go to Bangalore for the Assembly session on Thursday. We plan to come only after the government is gone,” rebel leader A.H. Vishwanath told a Kannada channel on Wednesday. “We wholeheartedly thank the Supreme Court for allowing us to abstain from the session and the trust vote.”

A whip is in force asking all members of the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress alliance to be present in the Assembly for the session, but the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the rebel MLAs could not be compelled to attend the House.

Vishwanath, who was until recently the state unit chief of the JDS, denied the widespread allegation that the rebels had accepted large sums of money from the BJP. “We did not leave the government for money. We are against how the government is run,” he said.

Of the 14 lawmakers in Mumbai, 11 are from the Congress and three from the JDS. Two rebel MLAs, Ramalinga Reddy and Roshan Baig, did not leave Bangalore.

On Wednesday, the sole relief to the alliance came from Congress veteran Reddy, the only one of the 16 who was not party to the Supreme Court petition.

Reddy promised to attend the Assembly and vote for the government. “Party workers have been appealing to withdraw my resignation. Several party leaders have also asked me to. I would like to say I will remain with the party,” he said in a statement.

“I have never hankered for ministerial berths. I have been with Congress for 45 years during which I was elected as MLA seven times. I had only resigned as an MLA, but not from the party,” he added.

The chief minister decided to take a trust vote after 16 lawmakers resigned, plunging the government into a crisis. Two Independents quit the cabinet and extended support to the BJP.

Efforts to woo the rebels back continued on Wednesday, as Congress troubleshooter D.K. Shivakumar tried to contact Baig.

Baig is under suspension for anti-party activities. Besides praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he had urged Muslims to support the BJP-led NDA soon after the Lok Sabha polls. More recently, he joined the rebels who have put in their papers.

“I just called Roshan Baig to wish him on his birthday (which was on July 15). Let us see, he is also a very sensible man,” Shivakumar said.

The Congress leader insisted that a whip is sacred for all members of the respective parties. “No one can escape a whip. If they want to get disqualified, it is their choice,” he said.

Shivakumar also expressed confidence the government would pull through the trust vote. “Our number is 117 or 116, no doubt. Their number is 105. That is what they have to realise,” he said.

State BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa, who could be the next chief minister if the coalition government collapses, spent time with his party MLAs, who are sequestered in a holiday resort. “The chief minister won’t be able to prove majority tomorrow,” Yeddyurappa said.