Protests Mere Cover, BJP Sets Sight on Money Bill to Topple Govt
High drama continued for the second day in a row at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru as BJP MLAs stormed the well of the House and disrupted proceedings on Thursday, 7 February.
It soon became clear that the BJP was in no mood to allow the Budget session to proceed peacefully while at the same time refusing to move a no-confidence motion against the government. In the ten-minute adjournment called by the Speaker around noon, senior BJP leaders held smaller meetings to strategise their next course of action. Addressing media persons outside, they blamed infighting for the coalition’s instability.
At the same time, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah questioned why the BJP was not moving a vote of no-confidence on the floor of the House.
According to sources, instead of attempting a coup in the old-fashioned manner of Operation Kamala, this time, the attempt will be to defeat the Money Bill or the Budget when it is presented by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday.
One way to divide the votes would be to make the ruling party MLAs to vote against their own Bill, in which case, the CM would be forced to step down. This translates to an informal floor test.
Their reluctance to move a motion of no-confidence despite persistent protests indicates cross voting during the finance bill is one of the options the BJP, believe the Congress camp.
BJP Used Protests as a Smokescreen
For the BJP to stake a claim in the government, by lowering the total strength of the House, it would need at least 14 MLAs to switch loyalties to them. With the total strength at 224 members, the BJP would be aiming at getting the numbers down to 210 so that with the present support of 106 MLAS (BJP-104 plus the two Independents who withdrew support), they would be able to stake a claim at forming the government.
However, so far the BJP hasn’t been able to convince Congress MLAs to jump camp and tender their resignation. If the Finance Bill topples, it would be equivalent to moving a no-confidence vote. The BJP hopes to bring down the number by ensuring at least 14 Congress MLAs remain absent from the house and topple the finance bill.
Where are the Congress MLAs?
While there has been no clear indication on the exact number of Congress and JD(S) MLAs who abstained from the Budget session on Thursday, the four Congress MLAs, believed to be in touch with BJP, were conspicuous by their absence. These include Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumthalli. JN Ganesh, who is on the police’s radar for allegedly attacking fellow MLA Anand Singh was also not seen.
Unlike the earlier two times a whip and show-cause notice was issued to the MLAs for failing to turn up, CLP leader Siddaramaiah has categorically said that action would be intitated against them as per the anti-defection law. This is exactly the outcome the BJP would also be wishing for, as the suspension of the MLAs would reduce the House strength.