BJP gets shot in the arm: Court rules against Independent MLAs

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New Delhi, Bangalore:  For the second time in 48 hours, it's the Karnataka High Court that has come to the rescue of Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa whose majority will be tested tomorrow in the Assembly.

The court has ruled that five independent MLAs - who originally belonged to the BJP government but switched sides last week - cannot participate in the trust vote tomorrow.
These five MLAs were, on Monday, disqualified by the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, along with 11 rebel BJP MLAs.

Without these 16 MLAs voting against it, the BJP government has the numbers to survive the trust vote.

The court's decision came in the afternoon, after the independent MLAs appealed for the right to participate in tomorrow's proceedings.

Before that, in Delhi, the BJP met the Prime Minister to ask that Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj be recalled for failing to act impartially in the Karnataka political crisis.

"He has failed to politically detach himself from his past," said the party's Arun Jaitley after a delegation led by LK Advani visited Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"Raj Bhavan in Bangalore has been converted into an  epicenter of horse-trading in order to destabilize the government," said Jaitley.

Bhardwaj's handling of the crisis has been questioned by constitutional experts, and , sources say, by the Congress in Delhi.  (Read: Karnataka: Governor, Speaker under scanner)

Earlier this week, he recommended that President's Rule be imposed in Karnataka after Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa survived a test of strength in the Assembly. 24 hours later, he u-turned and, in an unprecedented move, at a press conference ordered Yeddyurappa to face a second trust vote (that will take place tomorrow).

Bhardwaj said the offer for a second trust vote was an act of charity and kindness - the language raised eyebrows, as did his comment that he was fed up of corruption in the Karnataka government.

"In utterances, in functioning, constitutional authorities are expected to act with dignity and restraint," said Jaitley.

The BJP has long complained that Bhardwaj, who was the Congress' Law Minister  at the centre, acts as an extension of the Congress.

Jaitley said the party agreed to a second trust vote "to avoid constitutional confrontations rather than precipitate them." However, what actually prompted the acquiescence was the fact that the numbers in the Assembly are currently in its favour. (Read: Yeddyurappa agrees to trust vote)

No doubt prompted by the fact that the government is in a position to win, the Congress and the JD(s) in Karnataka have also criticized the Governor's decision to offer Yeddyurappa a second chance.

Yeddyurappa's first trust vote - on Monday -  was marred by chaos and violence. Early in the morning, the Speaker  disqualified the 16 MLAs who're now fighting that decision in court. (Read: Speaker disqualifies 16 rebel MLAs)

Five of those MLAs forced their way into the House for the vote, however. Security guards or marshals tried to stop them, but were unsuccessful. The Speaker said that Yeddyurappa's majority had been established in a voice vote. (Read: Yeddyurappa wins trust vote)

However, the Governor said a matter as important as this cannot be decided on the basis of a voice vote. He also said that there was no documentation of the MLAs who had voted for and against the government.

Independent MLA Varthur Prakash joins BJP camp

Independent MLA Varthur Prakash, who had thrown in his lot with JD(S) and was at the forefront of the oust-B S Yeddyurappa government campaign in the past one week, today returned the BJP camp, a day before the second trust vote.

"In the interest of the state and stability of the government for the next two and half years, I have decided to vote for the BJP government", Prakash told reporters in the presence of Karnataka Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy.

Prakash represents Kolar Assembly segment.

(With PTI inputs)

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