Bengaluru, July 23: The 14-month-old JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka lost the floor test on Tuesday by 6 votes as 99 legislators were in favour of the confidence motion and 105 against it, Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar announced before adjourning the House.
Meanwhile, unable to woo back its 14 MLAs who have tendered their resignations, the Congress is mulling the idea of disqualifying them, party sources indicated.
"The rebel MLAs have resigned from the House. They have not resigned as the party members. Thus they can be disqualified," a senior Congress party source told IANS.
He said the party MLAs, who resigned in last two weeks are still the Congress members and they are bound to follow the whip of the Congress.
"As they have not followed the party's whip, the party can disqualify them," he said.
Prior to the resignations, the Congress had 79 MLAs and its coalition partner JD(S) had 37 in the 225-member Assembly. Along with two Independents and a BSP member, it had 118 members, just 5 more than the simple majority mark.
A 'whip' is an order issued by a political party to all their legislators to be present and voting as per the party's direction during a debate. If a legislator does not follow the 'whip', they can be disqualified.
Article 164 (1B) of the Constitution says that a member who has been disqualified cannot be made a minister till the expiry of his or her term, or until he or she is re-elected.
Party sources said if the rebel MLAs are disqualified under Anti-Defection law and the Assembly is not dissolved, then they will be barred from the House until next elections.
The Karnataka Assembly is currently witnessing a debate on Confidence motion moved by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar last week has said that all parties may be allowed to apply their ‘whip' in the House during the trust vote.
A debate on the issue is currently underway in the House. If he allows the whip to be applied, it would mean that the rebel MLAs can be disqualified for not attending the session, despite the Supreme Court order.
The Congress has earlier accused the BJP of being indulging in horse trading, a charge denied by the saffron party.
The BJP had won 105 seats, while the Congress won 79 seats in Karnataka Assembly elections. JD-S had won.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on a plea seeking direction to conduct the trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly immediately.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it will hear the matter on Wednesday after Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing Karnataka Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar appeared optimistic and assured the court that the floor test might take place by the end of the day.
Two Independent legislators -- R. Shankar and H. Nagesh -- had moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to conduct the trust vote in the Assembly immediately.
The petitioners said in the plea that they have withdrawn their support to the ruling Congress-Janata Dal-Secular coalition.
Karnataka is facing a political crisis after several Congress and JD-S MLAs resigned from the Assembly or joined hands with the BJP in a bid to pull down the H.D. Kumaraswamy government.
Chief Minister Kumaraswamy on July 19 moved the Supreme Court seeking clarification on its July 17 order which permitted 15 rebel MLAs to opt out of the House and said the Governor was interfering in the conduct of the trust vote.
Image Courtesy: Google