“Krishna Byre Gowda is seen as a legislator whose reputation is unblemished, is liked by the ruling and opposition parties, his words are mostly taken seriously by his peers,” a Cong source said.

Why Krishna Byre Gowda was chosen to lead Cong-JDS charge in Karnataka AssemblyFile Image
news Karnataka Political Crisis Friday, July 19, 2019 - 16:33

On a usual day, Krishna Byre Gowda is seen as a suave and soft spoken politician. But in the current political crisis in Karnataka, the Congress-JD(S) coalition have chosen him to lead their charge in the Assembly after former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah fired the first shots on Thursday. Through Thursday and Friday, KBG as he’s known, made several interventions on behalf of the Congress-JD(S) team, as the coalition clearly sought to buy time before the crucial trust vote.

According to sources, the reason KBG was chosen to lead the charge is because he has the confidence of both the Congress and the JD(S). While the two parties are in coalition and seem to be making a last ditch attempt to save the government, they haven’t seen eye to eye on many issues. In the 14 months that this government has lasted so far, there have been many instances of infighting among the coalition partners, and some name calling and public airing of disappointments.

However, while Krishna Byre Gowda is a Congressman, he has the respect of the JD(S) as well – especially party supremo Deve Gowda. And so, he was given the charge to hold the attention of the House and drive the debate in the direction the coalition wanted.

Congress leaders also said that Krishna Byre Gowda was the right person to lead the charge because he was the minister for law and parliamentary affairs and also the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj. “As an extremely well-read person, Krishna Byre Gowda is well-versed in the Constitution and how these legalities can apply,” a Congress leader told TNM.

Krishna Byre Gowda has also been the Congress’s point person regarding legal matters ever since 15 MLAs resigned and that coalition came under the threat of collapse. “It is true that senior leaders could have led the charge but Krishna Byre Gowda is seen as a legislator whose reputation is unblemished, is liked by the ruling and opposition parties, his words are mostly taken seriously by his peers. He is treated with respect and is seen a man of principles,” said a source in the Congress.

On Friday, a generally soft-spoken Krishna Byre Gowda held the attention of the House with his impassioned appeal to the Speaker on why the Governor cannot interfere in the ongoing proceedings of the House. Beginning his speech, the 46-year-old launched a scathing attack on the opposition by accusing the BJP of bribing the MLAs with Rs 30 crore each. “The BJP has no regard for the Constitution or democratic principles. They offered MLA Srinivas Gowda Rs 5 crore and promised to give him Rs 30 crore more. So many accusations of the BJP buying the MLAs has come out in the Assembly today. Why are the BJP MLAs so quiet in the face of such allegations? Silence is consent. It’s because they are guilty,” he said.

Rising up to defend the BJP, MLA Mahadeva Swamy in a burst of anger said, “I’ll take it to court!” The generally soft-spoken KBG lost his cool to dramatic effect: “Our MLA is saying that he received Rs 5 crore from BJP leaders. You are breaking down the entire Constitutional machinery. What do you have to say to this, Mahadeva Swamy?”

Krishna Byre Gowda then delved into the legalities as to why the Governor’s direction to the Chief Minister to prove his majority by 1.30 pm must not be accepted by the Speaker.

What KBG said 

Krishna Byre Gowda relied on the 2016 Supreme Court judgement, where the top court restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh by declaring the Governor’s actions as illegal and violating the Constitutional provisions.

Citing the Supreme Court verdict, Krishna Byre Gowda said, “The Governor must keep clear of horse trading, and political manipulations. The Governor cannot make such issues a matter of his concern. The actions of the Governor are beyond the scope of his authority.”

He also argued that Article 175 of the Constitution cannot be compared to Section 63 of the Government of India Act of 1935. “It is apparent that the framers of the Constitution didn’t intend to follow the regimen of Section 63 of the Government of India Act, 1935. It removed the Governor’s powers to interfere. Article 175 excluded and omitted the discretion with the Governor in sending messages to the Legislature. Had it been otherwise, the phrase would have been regained by the Constituent Assembly,” he argued, adding that the Governor cannot interfere except under Article 200.

He went to point out, “The Governor cannot manufacture any business for the House to transact through a so-called message or otherwise. As far as the Governor is concerned, if he disregards the advice of the Council of Ministers, the pressure of the President can be withdrawn.”

Countering KBG, the BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai – the petitioner in the Bommai case that KBG also quoted – argued that the Governor had every right to call for a floor test, and did not need the advice of the Council of Ministers as the government is a minority. 

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