Theatre of the Absurd, Karnataka: Arabian Nights of a Sort!
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Theatre of the Absurd, Karnataka: Arabian Nights of a Sort!

July 19, 2019

The confidence motion moved in the Karnataka Assembly yesterday by the Congress-JD(S) coalition’s Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy was expected to have a smooth passage, either way, because its procedures were vetted by the Supreme Court, as we know. Sadly, the proceedings took a turn towards an unprecedented pandemonium with the leading coalition partner Congress raising a point of order on the issue of issuance of whip to its members and the ambiguity perceived about issuing of  whip in the Supreme Court order.

Siddharamaiah, the herdsman of Congress party in Karnataka and the Chairman of the Coalition Co-ordination Committee (Samanvaya Samithi) of the coalition Government, was on his feet, silencing the Chief Minister who was speaking on the confidence motion. And the Speaker, sphinx-like, was condescending to Siddharamaiah. Unfair to the august House and not so much to Kumaraswamy who was in fact affronted. But then, being coalition partner this seemed a drama enacted with prior mutual understanding. And knowing Siddharamaiah’s pace and tenor of speech, nay a drone, he was repeating what Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar had spoken in the previous session about the evil of defection, what the great Parliamentarian Madhu Dandavate had spoken about it in the Parliament on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth centenary etc. 

When the Speaker intervened asking him to speak on the ‘point of order’, Sidddharamaiah plunged into the Constitution… The Supreme Court’s directions etc., ad nauseam… Soon it was clear the intent of the coalition partners was to filibuster and drag on the proceedings to gain a few more days to enable themselves to try and try again, like the legendary Robert Bruce, to get their MLAs now holed-up in a Hotel in Mumbai, back to the fold and save their Government from the imminent collapse.

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The BJP was no fool not to see through the game-plan of the coalition partners who seemed to get tacit support from the Speaker. The ruling coalition was seeking postponement of the Trust Vote on the grounds that there were legal ambiguities that needed to be solved — either by going to the Supreme Court or consulting the legal eagle.

Naturally, the Speaker was in a fix. Despite the plea by the BJP for a division of votes to settle the matter, the Speaker adjourns the House.

It was then the helpless BJP went to the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R. Vala with a SOS. The Governor wrote to the Speaker urging him to conclude the confidence vote by the end of the day. But the letter was treated as advice  (Salahe) and not a direction (Aadesha) and the Governor’s letter was ignored with the Speaker adjourning the House for today, Friday.

It is now clear to the BJP that the coalition Government is all set to enact ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ of The Arabian Nights, to ward off the dreaded day of Trust Vote which will for sure be the death-knell to the coalition Government. After all, tomorrow is another day !

Sensing this kind of danger, the BJP once again went to the Governor and this time the Governor seemed to have risen to his full Constitutional height and wrote a definitive letter, not to the Speaker who always took shelter under his Constitutional rights (forgetting the democratic responsibilities under the spirit of the law),  but to the Chief Minister himself (who is appointed at the pleasure of the Governor) directing (Aadesha) him to prove his majority on the floor of the House (not when he, Siddharamaiah or the Speaker wished, for whatever reason) but on or before 1.30 pm today, Friday.

But wait ! All is not lost for the coalition Government. They have their Supreme Court                Advocates capable of keeping the Supreme Court Judges awake through the night and get them to deliver judgement. It had happened in May 2018. As a result, BJP’s Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had to quit unable to prove his majority in the House. Of course, there was not enough time for Operation Kamala! Let it be.

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Is the BJP heading towards happy days again after a wait of one year and two months? GoK. But, unwittingly, signs of that possibility was perceived in the House yesterday when Siddharamaiah, as if by premonition, identified himself as “Leader of the Opposition” which he will be, should the BJP come to power following the Trust Vote.

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6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Theatre of the Absurd, Karnataka: Arabian Nights of a Sort!”

  1. Bhamy V Shenoy says:

    Hope some one will make a movie of the current happenings at Vidhan Soudha. Nothing can be more hilarious. Nothing can be more shameful. Nothing can be more depressing. What a drama our leaders are capable of staging ignoring their responsibilities. How will history treat these leaders? Sad part is that we the public are mute spectators to this drama. This was not expected when our freedom fighters fought for. How ironic that Churchill has turned out to be right regarding the chaos he predicted (of course his country also has its own crisis called “Brexit’). Time we the public bring down the curtain.

  2. Manava says:

    It was time that the governor recommended president’s rule ,lasting for 5 years. That time span should be used to cleanse the Assembly of the corrupt thugs who care about themselves only. What is happening is that a minority government is seeking to postpone the trust vote and continue as long as possible. The Brexit is an issue of getting sovereignty back from the European Union,which is not totally democratic and which was originally planned as a free market zone for European countries to trade without tariffs inside the Union and not a political union. That is true democracy in action, called Brexit, voted by people in Britain. What Churchill said which is witnessed in Karnataka Assembly is NOT democracy in action , but a chaotic state with a minority coalition wanting to stay put ruling as if nothing happened, using any means to do so!!

  3. A Constitutional logjam has developed in Karnataka. The serious political crisis in Karnataka assumed the form of a constitutional logjam on Friday, thanks to the governor and the Supreme Court. The Opposition BJP, especially its overly ambitious state chief B.S. Yeddyurappa, saw in the fragile political equation within the ruling combine an opportunity to seize power. The method it employed was to spirit away to Mumbai disgruntled ruling side MLAs to give effect to Operation Lotus Mark II. Variants of this method have been successfully used by the BJP in many states in recent times.

    This political problem could have sorted itself out politically. However, owing to the grossly ill-considered positions adopted by the Supreme Court and Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, unprecedented constitutional issues were to the fore on Friday — after the process of taking a confidence vote was begun by the CM a day earlier. The Supreme Court should have avoided being sucked into a political quagmire. Instead, a three-member bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi practically gave carte blanche to intending ruling side defectors — misleadingly labelled “dissidents” — through its interim order of July 17.
    It ruled that these 15 MLAs “could not be compelled” to attend the Assembly during the trust vote. This meant a party whip, a hoary instrument that upholds the party system in Westminster-style democracies and is crucial to the operation of the anti-defection law (10th Schedule), would not apply to the defectors-in-the-pipeline and they couldn’t be made to vote for the party on whose ticket they were elected.

    This is an extraordinary reading of the law and parliamentary practice by the wise ones, and was challenged by the CM, as well as the Congress and the JD(S) on Friday.

    Perhaps taking a cue from the court and BJP politicians, the governor informed the CM — although the latter had already initiated trust vote proceedings — that he may have lost the confidence of the House. Under the landmark Bommai judgment, this matter can only be tested on the floor of the legislature, and not in Raj Bhawan.

    Exceeding his constitutional powers, the governor sought to intimidate Speaker K.R. Ramesh to take the vote count even before the debate on the trust motion ended. A confident Speaker dismissed the governor’s missive with the contempt it deserved, just as he did not earlier bother with the Supreme Court’s instruction to close trust vote proceedings within a day, which was an encroachment on the legislature’s prerogative and privileges.

    It is to be hoped that a piqued governor will not go down the slippery slope of recommending President’s Rule while a trust motion is under debate.This should be notwithstanding the brazenness of the ruling coalition with which it is trying to desperately cling to power even daring the Supreme Court, and Governor besides browbeating the Speaker to back up it’s shameless exercise.

  4. Manava says:

    @SRINIVAS D CHAKRAVARTHY Gross misreading and misunderstanding, perhaps due to ignorance of how the modified Westminster style of democracy works in India. The constitution framers of India did not copy purely Westminster style of government as in Britain there were no states, but only regions. Hence, the structure of states and the state assemblies were copied from the USA, with the governors as the constitution enforcer in the states. In India, the governor derives his /her power from the constitution and the president. The Karnataka governor is exercising that power looking at a government which seemingly lost its majority in the Assembly, and hence, he was suggested to test this. JD(S) and the Congress together with the speaker were avoiding this. The speaker who by the way, has the constitutional duty to ensure the legality of the government, which means, asking the ruling party to test the majority in the Assembly floor. This had to be done forthwith, and it did not. The governor was within his power to emphasis the floor test as soon as possible.
    The Supreme Court in its judgement said that the resigned MLAs should not be forced into voting in such an assembly floor test. The Supreme Court is the guardian of the constitution along with the president. This Court did right.
    The chaos is created by the JD(s) and in particular the Congress, because the latter knew that it will lose power. The BJP under the misguided Yeddy is not behaving well. Modi was wrong in not replacing him Any sensible observer could see that the JD(S) + Congress with dissident MLAs or BJP cannot provide a stable government to solve pressing problems the state has.
    Having suggested the Assembly floor test, twice, and the speaker ignoring it,should give enough reason to doubt the speaker’s probity. The Governor should act, and recommend the dissolution of the Assembly, and institute president’s rule. Karnataka, even in its earlier incarnation of Mysore, had always the misfortune of being governed by dishonourable and corrupt politicians. Hence, despite the glittering jewel of tech Bengaluru, the state government has been in effectual in influencing the central government in any shape for form , since1960s. This malaise of mis-management arising from caste-driven corruption has not gone away. In fact, it has increased many fold. A 5-year president rule with the governor appointing advisers from the prominent people pool, the state has, to help the administrative officers’ team should go a long way in minimising the above malaise.

  5. swamy says:

    India and other third world countries should not have democracy, coz they don’t know the value of it. I had the chance to visit Thingvellir, the oldest parliament of the world, in Iceland. Western European nations and USA, Canada has the best democracy. I mean they may elect a rogue like Trump once in while, but democratic engine runs smoothly. I would say bring back monarchy to India, that too from a foreign country. Thugs get elected and uneducated village and slum idiots vote for money.

  6. What a World! says:

    @ swamy Trump puts USA first. He may be a thug to you and other US immigrants who do not like the country thry live in but want Dollars. Shameless bunch. Democrats let in all and sundry who after coming to USA,act against the interest of the country. Trunp will win the election again, because for too long Democrsts sold out the country. No one is a greater thug than Bill Clinton who was having an illicit sex with a younger girl in the Oval office.

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