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Floor test sacrosanct: Bhardwaj

J. Balaji

Meeting with Manmohan a courtesy call, says Karnataka Governor

11 BJP rebel MLAs meet senior party leaders in Delhi

Everyone in party supporting my leadership: Yeddyurappa

NEW DELHI: Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on Saturday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Saturday and reportedly discussed the situation in the State in view of the Supreme Court setting aside the disqualification of 11 BJP MLAs and five independents.

Later, Mr. Bhardwaj hinted that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa should undergo a floor test to prove his majority. The Supreme Court verdict had come as an endorsement of his stand that the floor test should be taken on the respective strength of the Assembly. His meeting with Dr. Singh was only a courtesy call, the Governor claimed.

However Mr. Yeddyurappa told The Hindu over telephone from Bangalore that the 11 MLAs basically belonged to the BJP and he was confident that he could prove his majority in the Assembly. He welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and added that everyone in the party was 101 per cent supporting his leadership.

“I will complete the present term till 2014 and again the BJP will come back to power in the Assembly polls to be held then,” he said.

To a question, the Chief Minister said party leaders in Delhi fully backed his leadership and the results of the recent Assembly by-elections, in which the BJP was able to win all the three seats, proved that the party enjoyed mass support.

On Mr. Bhardwaj's meeting with Dr. Singh, Mr. Yeddyurappa said: “I am not aware of any such meeting and I don't want to comment about the Governor.”

Earlier, Mr. Bhardwaj said he was yet to go through the verdict of the Supreme Court on the disqualification issue and it was “too premature” to comment on the next course of action. He indicated that the floor test was the best option to prove majority in the Assembly. “I had advised floor test [in October]. It should be taken on the respective strength of the party without bringing them down. They [BJP government] resorted to exactly the opposite,” the Governor said.

“The Supreme Court restored the status quo. I have to study the case law and the ramifications of the order and put it to the [State] government,” he said. He would be writing to the State government after reaching Bangalore.

His view was that the floor test was a sacrosanct commitment and it should be carried out earnestly according to the Constitution rather than doing a headcount.

One of the BJP rebel MLAs and former Fisheries Minister, Anand Asnotikar, who is camping here for the last three days, said the 11 legislators had never defected from the BJP and were only demanding a change in leadership. “We never defected nor said anything about the party... We are against the leadership,” he said.

The former Union Minister and Representative of the Karnataka government in Delhi, V. Dhananjayakumar, claimed there was no crisis in the BJP. All the 11 MLAs were with the party and the BJP's strength had now swelled from 109 to 120. “Mr. Yeddyurappa's government enjoys clear majority [in the 224-member Assembly],” he said.

The 11 BJP rebel MLAs met senior BJP leaders here, including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradhan, and reliable sources said the party was studying the issue in view of the Supreme Court verdict. They were confident that the party would sail through the present developments. “We hope there will not be any problem to the BJP government in Karnataka,” a leader said, adding talks were on with the 11 BJP MLAs.

Meanwhile, Janata Dal (Secular) secretary-general Danish Ali demanded that the Centre dismiss the Yeddyurappa government in the interest of democracy. What the Chief Minister and Speaker K.G. Bopaiah had done to disqualify the MLAs was a “mockery of democracy.” The Supreme Court verdict had vindicated the Governor's report about the BJP government to the Centre, Mr. Ali said. Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said the party was studying the situation in Karnataka and it did not want to act in haste.

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