Survival pangs, as Karnataka legislature meets Dec 5
The winter session of the Karnataka legislature begins Wednesday, amid doubts over its survival, as many ruling BJP legislators are likely to attend the Dec 9 launch of the new outfit headed by former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The two houses of the legislature, assembly and council, are scheduled to meet for six days from Dec 5 to Dec 12.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has threatened action against its legislators who take part in the launch rally of Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) in Haveri, about 150 km from here.
Belgaum is about 500 km north of Bangalore, and Haveri around 400 km north of the state capital.
Chief minister Jagadish Shettar and state BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa expressed confidence that only a handful of legislators may attend the Haveri launch of KJP.
However, Yeddyurappa is keeping his former party and the state's people guessing on the number of ministers and BJP legislators expected to take part in the Haveri meet.
Though he has been saying that he has asked ministers and legislators supporting him not to quit the BJP for now -- he resigned from the party Nov 30 -- he has been making contradictory statements on how many of them will attend the Haveri launch.
On Sunday he told reporters here that all ministers and BJP legislators supporting him would attend the Haveri rally.
Yeddyurappa has been claiming the support of over a dozen ministers in Shettar's 34-member cabinet; he has also said that over 40 of the BJP's 119 assembly members would join him.
The BJP has 119 members, including the speaker, in the 225-strong assembly which includes one nominated member.
Yeddyurappa dared the BJP to take action against ministers and party legislators who attend the Haveri meet.
"If the BJP does not want the Shettar government to complete its term (which expires May next as assembly elections are due then), it can act against ministers and legislators who attend the Haveri rally", he said.
Shettar is the third chief minister in over four years that the BJP has been in power in the state.
In May 2008, when Yeddyurappa led the BJP to victory for the first time in a southern state and took over as chief minister, he considered Shettar a rival and did not make him a minister.
However, the two joined hands early this year to unseat party colleague D.V. Sadananda Gowda as chief minister.
Shettar took oath as chief minister July 12 this year.
Yeddyurappa had handpicked Gowda in July last year when he was forced to quit as chief minister over mining bribery charges.
Survival of the Shettar government and the assembly becomes difficult beyond Dec 9 if even a dozen party legislators attend the Haveri meet.
For, with just 119 legislators, including the speaker, in the 225-member assembly, the party has a slender majority of six.
The Congress, which has 71 members, is toying with the idea of moving a no-confidence motion to cash in on the confusion in the ruling party.
The Janata Dal-Secular has 26 members.
There are seven independents, one of whom supports the ruling party and is a minister.
One seat is vacant.
This will be the first session of the legislature in the new secretariat named 'Suvarna Vidhana Soudha', built in commemoration of the golden jubilee of the formation of Karnataka in 1956 as part of states' reorganisation.
The nearly Rs.400-crore structure, a replica of the majestic Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, was inaugurated Oct 11 by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The legislature has held two sessions in this city, in 2006 and 2009, but in a rented building.
The sessions were held and the state's second secretariat was built here to counter neighbouring Maharashtra's continued claim to the city and several other areas of Belgaum district.