Bengaluru: The 10-day Budget session of the Karnataka legislature began on a stormy note on Wednesday with the opposition BJP legislators disrupting Governor Vajubhai Vala’s address and 10 Congress lawmakers skipping the joint session.
Though the session began cordially at 11 a.m. with the Governor reading his address in Hindi, 5 minutes later, about 30-40 BJP members trooped into well of the House, raising slogans against the JD-S-Congress coalition government and made the former’s speech inaudible in the din.
As the BJP sloganeering intensified, Vala abruptly cut short his speech and concluded by reading the last page of his address.
Soon after the Governor left, Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar tabled his address as ‘read’ for adoption by the House after a motion of thanks during the budget session till February 15.
Kumar adjourned the House after the House paid tributes to state’s iconic seer Shivakumara Swami, who passed away at Tumakuru on January 21, and Mangaluru-born former Defence Minister George Fernandes, who died in New Delhi on January 29.
The BJP’s contention is that the coalition government had no moral right to continue as it has “lost” the majority in the lower House.
The Congress state unit in a tweet in Kannada termed the disruption by the BJP as a “disrespect” to the Governor and the House.
Defying the chief whip issued by Ganesh Prakash Hukkeri on Tuesday to the ruling Congress lawmakers for attending the session, party spokesman Rizawan Arshad told reporters 9 members, including the four arebels’ were absent at the joint session.
Besides the rebels — Ramesh Jharkiholi, Mahesh Kumatalli, Umesh Jadhav and B. Nagendra, other five are Basanagouda Daddal (Raichur Rural), B C Patil (Hirekerur), Paratapgouda Patil (Maski), B. Ramalinga Reddy and his daughter Sowmay Reddy from Bengaluru assembly segments.
Congress legislator from Kampli J N Ganesh, who is facing attempt to murder charge for attacking his party’s Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh at a resort near Bengaluru recently, was also not seen in the House during the session.
Three BJP legislators were also conspicuously absent from the House.
“Our three legislators — Karunakara Reddy, Doddannagouda Patil and Chinnappa Nimbannavar — had taken permission from party leaders for not being able to attend the session for personal reasons,” BJP state unit spokesman Vamanacharya told IANS here.
Two legislators, H. Nagesh of Karnataka Pragnavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) and Independent R. Shankar, who withdrew their support to the coalition government last month were also not present at the legislature session.
Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) member Narayan Gowda (K R Pet) was also absent.
In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated from the Anglo-India community, the Congress has 80, including the Speaker, JD-S 37, BJP 104 and remaining are an Independent and one each from the BSP and the KPJP.
Defending the protest against the ruling alliance partners, BSP’s state unit president and opposition leader in the House B.S. Yeddyurappa said as the government was not stable due to arevolt in the Congress and serious differences with the JD-S, the government had no moral right to continue.
Yeddyurappa, however, reiterated that the BJP would not move a no-confidence motion against the coalition government.
“We will neither move the no-confidence motion nor approach the Governor. The government will collapse on its own, given the bickering among the MLAs. I have learnt that 10-12 Congress MLAs did not attended the session,” Yeddyurappa told reporters outside the House.
Congress Minister for Large and Medium Scale Industries K.J. George said the BJP was free to move a “no-confidence” motion.
“There is no use of the BJP creating a ruckus in the Assembly. If they are uncertain that the coalition has the support of the majority, they are free to move a no-confidence motion,” he retorted.
Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy of the JD-S, who also holds the Finance portfolio, is scheduled to present the state budget for ensuing fiscal (2019-20) in the Assembly on Friday afternoon, amidst growing uncertainty over the continuation of the 8-month-old coalition government.