The three-year-old BJP government in Karnataka faced a fresh crisis on Sunday with sources saying governor H.R. Bhardwaj had recommended President’s Rule in a “special report” sent to the Centre.
In his letter, which will be taken up by the Union Cabinet when it meets in New Delhi on Monday, Mr Bhardwaj has recommended the suspension of the Legislative Assembly or dissolution of the House following the Supreme Court order reversing the disqualification of 11 BJP and five Independent legislators.
While Raj Bhavan sources remained tightlipped on what the “special report” sent by Mr Bhardwaj contained, sources said the governor had cited the “shortcuts” resorted to by the state government to stay in power as the reason for recommending suspension of the House or imposition of President’s Rule after dissolution.
A Raj Bhavan communiqué merely said that based on the developments after the Supreme Court ruling on Friday, the governor had submitted a special report to the Centre.
According to the sources, the governor cited two separate letters from the legislators whose disqualification was quashed by the Supreme Court. The first letter, dated October 10, 2011, was the one sent to Mr Bhardwaj by the legislators withdrawing support to the B.S. Yeddyurappa government while the second was that faxed to him Sunday by the same legislators, extending support to the chief minister. The sources quoted the report saying the change in the legislators’ stance was proof of largescale horse-trading resorted to by the government.
Mr Yeddyurappa has hit back at the governor’s move, calling it a “conspiracy of Raj Bhavan that is not acceptable”. A meeting of top NDA leaders is likely to take place in New Delhi on Monday and a delegation is likley to call on President Pratibha Patil to protest against the governor’s move. Mr Yeddyurappa said he had written a letter to both the President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking them not to accept the governor’s report.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi that the BJP government enjoyed a majority in the state Assembly and had the support of at least 121 MLAs in the 224-member House. He noted that the state government had sought convening of an Assembly session on Monday, “which he (Bhardwaj) is not allowing”.
The governor quoted a Supreme Court order on Bihar wherein the court had ruled the governor could recommend President’s Rule if he was satisfied the government was resorting to “shortcut” methods to stay in power. Sources said the reports had been sent to both the President and the Prime Minister. The contents would be officially revealed after the Cabinet meeting in New Delhi, the sources added.
Before Mr Bhardwaj sent the report, Opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah and Karnataka PCC president G. Parameshwar submitted a memorandum to him seeking dismissal of the government, claiming that “large-scale horse-trading” of legislators was happening.
The day was not without its share of dramatic developments, with 10 of the BJP legislators, whose disqualification was reversed by the Supreme Court, deciding to support the Yeddyurappa government once again — the same government they had tried to topple in October last year. They faxed copies of support for the government, to the governor, who was in New Delhi at this time and also tried to meet him soon after his return to Bengaluru from the national capital in the evening.
However, Mr Bhardwaj reportedly declined to meet them and instead accepted the letters of support from a BJP delegation, led by former Union minister Dhananjay Kumar, which included several ministers of the Yeddyurappa Cabinet.
For the last two days after the court judgment, hectic negotiations had taken place between the 16 legislators, including five Independents, and representatives of all three major parties in the state. Ministers Govind Karjol, Umesh Katti and M.P. Renukacharya had managed to convince the legislators to be part of the government and had assured them of either ministerial berths or posts of chairpersons of boards and corporations. The BJP leaders also warned them they would have to face mid-term polls f they did not support the government as the anti-defection law made it virtually impossible for them to vote for an alternative government.
While 10 of the BJP MLAs agreed to support Mr Yeddyurappa, Mysore MLA Shankarlinge Gowda ruled out supporting the CM at any cost while Independent MLA from Malavalli Narendra Swamy also refused to be budge from his stance.
Sources said the Congress had tried to lure the rebel MLAs by offering to make all of them ministers in an alternative government if they assisted in pulling down the Yeddyurappa government. Janata Dal(S) negotiators, who included H.D. Kumaraswamy, N. Cheluvarayaswamy and Zameer Ahamed Khan, reportedly offered outside support to any government formed by the rebel MLAs and Independents with the Congress. But the rebels chose to align with the BJP, the sources added. Asian Age