The Congress party in Karnataka suffered a defeat on Thursday in its attempt to unseat the Chairman of the Legislative Council, BJP’s DH Shankaramurthy, through a no confidence motion.
Just a single vote made the difference and to the party’s surprise, the JD(S) and Independents sided with the BJP.
Angered by the shame faced by the Congress, the party’s legislators are now holding MLC VS Ugrappa responsible for the defeat, and claim that the entire process was done without proper homework, planning or strategy.
Ugrappa, who is a close aide of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, had rallied the support of the JD(S) and independent MLCs for unseating the Council chairman through a no confidence motion.
Now, the Congress legislators are planning to meet All India Congress Committee General Secretary, KC Venugopal, who is in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka, on this issue.
Congress MLAs and MLCs are coming together to file a complaint against Ugrappa. “One legislator from Tumakuru has already spoken with KC Venugopal on Thursday about Ugrappa’s move, which has cost the Congress tremendously. The legislator has explained to Venugopal how Ugrappa’s unnecessary act has tarnished the party’s image,” a source with the Congress told The News Minute.
Venugopal has told the irked MLAs that necessary steps would be taken if written complaints are handed over to him during his visit to Bengaluru on June 23.
“A few MLAs and MLCs have now decided to file written complaints to the party’s national high command and submit it to KC Venugopal. Prior to this, a formal written complaint will be lodged against Ugrappa’s rash decision with KPCC President, Dr G Parameshwara,” the source added.
Ugrappa has been accused by other Congress MLAs and MLCs of moving the no confidence motion against Council Chairman Shankaramurthy, without holding consultations with the party President. This has thereby caused immense trouble for the government's Chief Whip at the council, Ivan D'Souza, along with legislators, HM Revanna and Abdul Jabbar, who are allegedly facing the brunt of Ugrappa’s actions.
“Due to this, there is now a demand for replacement of Ivan D’Souza. Although the CM Siddaramaiah sided with Ugrappa and blamed the JD(S) for not standing by its word, there was never any proper dialogue with the JD(S) leaders before the motion was floated. The Congress had never managed to garner their prior support,” the source added.
In the 75-member Karnataka Legislative Council, the Congress has 33 members, BJP 23, JDS 13, along with 5 Independents and the Chairman.
One seat is vacant as of now following the death of BJP MLC Vimala Gowda.
While the motion for removal of Shankaramurthy secured 36 votes in its favour, 37 were against it.
Deputy Chairman and JD(S) leader, Maritibbe Gowda, who presided over the proceedings, rejected the motion.
Ugrappa, while moving the motion, had accused Shankaramurthy of impropriety, nepotism, corruption and partisan behaviour. He had also claimed that Shankarmurthy was unfit to be the chairman as he “worked against the rules and procedures of the House, the Constitution, and secular principles by openly showing his favoritism towards certain religious forces”.
The Chair expunged some charges against Shankaramurthy, as Ugrappa was unable to provide any evidence for his claims.
Refuting Ugrappa’s allegations, Shankaramurthy termed them "blatant lies". Stating that his tenure as the Chairman has been a transparent one, Shankaramurthy said, "You have seen my work, vote according to your conscience."
On June 13, Shankaramurthy had allowed the notice for moving a no-confidence motion against him by Ugrappa and nine other Congress MLCs.
The House witnessed chaos when members began debating the issue on whether Ugrappa should be allowed to make allegations against Shankaramurthy while moving the motion, as it was not mentioned in the notice as per procedure.
After hearing the arguments made by both sides quoting the rulebook, the Chair decided that both would be allowed to present their stand for five minutes.
After the trust vote, JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy had told media persons that his party members had sided with the BJP not because they were mired together in the mining scam but because it had been decided that JD(S) member Maritibbe Gowda would retain the post of Deputy Chairman.
“KPCC President had offered the Chairman post to one of my party members just before the trust vote. He was indulging in opportunism,” Kumaraswamy told media persons on Thursday after the trust vote.
Speaking to the media, Leader of Opposition in Vidhana Parishad, KS Eshwarappa said on Thursday that garnering the JD(S)' support for the trust vote was a step towards a Congress-free Karnataka. “The BJP will take suitable decisions to ensure that the Congress will not come to power in 2018,” Eshwarappa added.