The Congress in Karnataka on Monday approached Speaker Ramesh Kumar seeking disqualification of four of its ‘rebel’ MLAs and suspected turncoats, for defying the party whip. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao submitted a petition to this effect to the Speaker in his chamber under the anti-defection law.
The infamous four were reportedly in touch with the BJP in their alleged plan to dislodge the Kumaraswamy government and failed to appear for a special legislative party meet called ahead of the budget session on February 8.
The four MLAs who now face the risk of disqualification are former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi from Gokak, Mahesh Kumathalli Athani, Umesh Jadhav from Chincholi and B Nagendra from Bellary assembly seats. The move came as announced by Siddarmaaiah on February 8 following the CLP meet, despite the legislators apparently claiming that they were still loyal to the party.
“Show-cause notices were issued seeking their explanation. They responded saying they were loyal to the Congress and wouldn’t leave the party. I wrote back, asking them to personally meet me and justify their stand. They didn’t come,” Siddaramiaah had then said.
“I mentioned all these things in the CLP meet and the unanimous opinion was that I should proceed further to take legal action under the anti-defection law. Sufficient opportunity was given to these MLAs. Therefore, I’ve decided to approach the Speaker with a petition requesting him to take action under the anti-defection law of Schedule 10 of the Constitution,” he had added.
This development comes amid a hectic day in the state assembly where the issue of horse-trading against the BJP in the light of a fresh audio clip dominated proceedings, with Ramesh Kumar himself being part of the conversation allegedly involving BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa.
On the insistence of the Congress leaders including former CM Siddaramaiah and Minister of Panchayatraj Krishna Byre Gowda, the Speaker asked CM Kumaraswamy to form a special investigation team and probe the matter within 15 days. The BJP, however, opposed the inquiry claiming that they do not have faith in any probe conducted by a state government agency.