In a temporary relief to the 13-month-old JDS-Congress coalition government, which is facing the threat of falling into a minority, Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday said out of 14 Congress and JDS MLAs who tendered resignation, eight of them were not in order.
The Speaker declined to accept the resignations of the 13 rebel legislators, as 8 were not in the prescribed format and 5 needed explanations to ensure they were in accordance with the law.
"I have summoned all the legislators of both the parties to meet me on July 12, July 15 and July 21, as their resignations are faulty and explanations are not in accordance with the law under section 202 of the Anti-Defection Act," said Kumar.
The Speaker's office has written to those 8 MLAs to submit their resignations in the prescribed format if they wish.
Speaking to the media here on Tuesday, the Speaker said that after the scrutiny of the papers, only the resignation letters submitted by Anand Singh, Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramalinga Reddy (All Congress), K Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda (Both JDS were in order and was in prescribed format and he had decided to summon them to meet him personally.
Ramesh Kumar said he received suspended Congress legislator Roshan Baig's resignation letter today, and that his office was examining whether Baig's letter is in the prescribed format.
The Speaker also said that he was in his office up to 12.30 pm on Saturday, and no MLA had sought an appointment with him. He claimed that the 13 MLAs handed in their resignation letters only after he had left.
While the Speaker had asked Anand Singh, Pratap Gouda Patil and Narayana Gouda to appear before him on June 12, K Gopalaiah and the Congress legislator Ramalinga Reddy had to appear before him June 15.
The names of those MLAs, whose resignations are not in order according to the Speaker included Ramesh Jarakiholi, Mahesh Kumatalli, B C Patil, H Vishwanath, S T Somashekhar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Shivaram Hebbar and Munirathna.
With the Speaker rejecting the resignations of the eight other MLAs, the 13-month-old JD(S)-Congress coalition government received a much-needed breather to keep its flock together and reach out to its disgruntled MLAs to reconsider their decision to quit to Assembly, top government sources said.
Meanwhile, BJP sources say that party leaders are upset with the Speaker but that they had anticipated this and are working out new strategies to ensure the collapse of the coalition, sources said.
According to sources, the Congress will now disqualify some of the disgruntled MLAs under the 10th schedule of the Constitution (or the 'Anti-Defection Law), following which, they will not be eligible to hold any remunerative political post, for the duration of the period commencing from the date his/her disqualification till the date an election is held.
Note given to Speaker cites the Constituition
The Speaker studied the constitutional mandate well and the genuinity clause available under the constitution was used, according to political sources,
A note which was handed over to the speaker, which is available with TNIE, says, "As per our constitutional mandate, in case the Speaker, from information or otherwise, and after making an inquiry thinks fit that resignation given by the MLA is not voluntary or genuine, then he can exercise his discretion whether to accept or not such resignation, even when a MLA resigns from his seat by writing under his hand addressed to the Speaker. This discretion is given to the Speaker under Article 190(3)(b)."
The note added: "It is reliably learnt that BJP has taken some of the resigned members of the Congress and JD (S) to Mumbai and they have been staying in Sofitel Hotel where high security has been given."
According to the note, "as BJP is in power in Maharashtra, which only goes to show that the resignation is neither genuine nor voluntary but the same is done at the insistence of the Bharatiya Janata Party either by threatening or coercing or due to money and political power. Therefore, the speaker/chairman is bound to conduct an enquiry as the resignation is not voluntary."
The speaker finally laid the condition that he can accept the letter of resignation only when the conditions laid down in the provision of Article 190 (3) of the Constitution are satisfied.
Where are the MLAs now?
The 14 MLAs, at the centre of the crisis in the JD(S)-Congress government, had been staying in a luxury hotel in Mumbai and left on Monday evening for Goa accompanied by Mumbai BJP Yuva Morcha president Mohit Bhartiya. But they are presently stationed at a location 90 km from Pune, towards Satara, in Maharashtra. They will wait for the Speaker's decision on their resignations before proceeding to Goa or returning to Bengaluru, sources said on Tuesday.
If their resignations are accepted, they may even go back to Bengaluru, they added.
If the Speaker accepts the resignations, the Congress-JDS coalition's 118 members in the 224-seat state assembly will come down to 102 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and with support of the two Independents, their tally will rise to 107.