The legislators of the JDS(S)-Congress coalition wasted no time jumping on the excuse. They weren't just hungry. They were hangry.

Were hungry Karnataka MLAs excuse to delay the trust vote
news Politics Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 11:03

It seemed that the JD(S)-Congress MLAs were out of ideas to delay the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly session on Monday until Opposition Leader BS Yeddyurappa inadvertently offered a new lease. It was past 10.30 pm and there seemed no end in sight for the session that had begun at 11 am. Any chance of decorum and sensible debate had almost flown out the window when Yeddyurappa raised a crucial question: “Honourable Speaker, can we adjourn for dinner and reconvene? We are willing to wait as long as possible for the trust vote to happen today (Monday) at any cost.”

The legislators of the JDS(S)-Congress coalition wasted no time jumping on the excuse. They weren't just hungry. They were hangry. “Yes, yes. Let’s adjourn for dinner and go home. We are all very hungry,” Congress and JD(S) MLAs, who were already in the well of the House, began yelling.

A visibly miffed Speaker sat with his head in its hands. Yeddyurappa munched on cashews nuts to satiate his appetite. The Karnataka Assembly session on Monday, which had convened to debate and vote on the motion of confidence, had dragged on for way too long. The deciding trust vote that could make or break the coalition would have to wait another day — dinnertime beckoned, the MLAs argued. 

But food wasn't a good enough reason to satisfy everyone. Unwilling to budge, BJP MLA from Tumkur, JC Madhuswamy, stood up and yelled, “It's OK honourable Speaker, we are willing to stay here till midnight, with or without food.” Silence fell upon the House as Madhuswamy’s statement swept across the room. 'Without food' was not an option that the hungry legislators seemed willing to entertain. 

Chaos fueled by hanger soon erupted in the house. Intervening on behalf of the MLAs creating a ruckus, Large Scale Industries Minister KJ George said, "Let's adjourn for dinner and reconvene tomorrow (Tuesday). We are all hungry and we can go home, sleep and start fresh in the morning. A lot of our MLAs still have to speak. We can’t finish this today."

Leaders of the ruling coalition had been playing a game of one-upmanship with the Opposition – Who will win in the game of delaying the trust vote? The MLAs of the coalition have waxed lyrical about the opposition’s greed for power and their alleged involvement in the horsetrading of MLAs for the last five days. 

Each and every legislator, who spoke in the Assembly has said the same thing, over and over again, albeit in different words -- The BJP's involvement in the horse-trading of MLAs and the party's hand in crippling democracy and assaulting the Constitution. The issue had reached its peak on Monday. From the Opposition and the Speaker to the marshals guarding the doors of the Assembly, everyone wanted the issue to be put to rest. “When can we go home? Is this ever going to end? We are hungry, too,” a marshal said. The delaying tactic was getting under the Speaker’s skin. The clock struck 11 pm and yet he refused to budge.

"I am willing to order food from a hotel, eat and continue,” Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said as he ordered decorum in the house. Another bout of sloganeering and shouting began with Congress and JD(S) MLAs shouting. "We are hungry, adjourn the house so we can reconvene tomorrow."

It became apparent that the coalition’s MLAs had irritated the Speaker beyond words when Periyapatna MLA Shivalinge Gowda said, “I am diabetic. I don’t have the energy to continue. Please let us go home. Yeddyurappa sir, you are diabetic, too. Please let us adjourn.” Soon, toffees and chocolates were distributed for those who had diabetes and the chaos continued.

Holding his head in his hand, a defeated Speaker finally caved to pressure. The sambar rice he had ordered for the MLAs had arrived and a mad rush for dinner ensued. The Assembly was adjourned at 11.30 pm. MLAs, journalists, marshals and bureaucrats, who were still at Vidhana Soudha, began rushing out, hoping for a meal, when one of the marshals announced, “The food is over.”

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