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K'taka still uncertain

Ktaka still uncertain
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered for a floor test in the Karnataka Assembly by 4 pm on Saturday. The Karnataka Governor, Vajubhai Vala, had given BJP legislature party leader BS Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority in the House. Recognising BJP as the single-largest party in the newly-elected state Assembly, Yeddyurappa was handed over the Governor's letter on Wednesday appointing him as the new Chief Minister of the state. Protesting against the Governor's move, Congress had moved the SC challenging the Governor's decision and sought a mid-night urgent hearing from the Apex court. Though the SC did not stay the Governor's decision, it said that the appointment and the swearing-in will be subject to its ruling. Resuming the hearing on Friday, the court said that the newly-appointed Chief Minister, Yeddyurappa, should prove his majority on the floor of the House by Saturday afternoon. It turned down Yeddyurappa's pleas that he should be given seven days' time to prove his majority. The Congress leadership had accused the Governor of ignoring the Congress-JD(S) claim to have the required numbers to form the government while giving Yeddyurappa more than enough time to 'manufacture' a majority in the House. Citing the example of the Karnataka Governor's decision to invite the single-largest party to form the government, the Congress said it would stake claim to form the government in Goa and Manipur, where the party had emerged as the single-largest party but the Governors in these two states had invited BJP-led coalitions to form the government. Similar demands have been raised in Meghalaya and Bihar, where Congress and RJD are the single-largest parties, respectively. The Congress has also launched 'Save the Constitution' campaign to protest against the Karnataka Governor's decision. Meanwhile, Governor Vala has appointed BJP leader KG Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker of the Assembly. In his previous term as the Speaker, Bopaiah had disqualified 16 MLAs ahead of a no-confidence motion in October 2010, which ensured the survival of the then Yeddyurappa government. The SC had quashed Bopaiah's decision and said that the basic Constitutional values and principles of natural justice were not followed by Bopaiah in disqualifying the 11 rebel BJP and five Independent legislators. After the appointment of Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker, Congress immediately expressed its disappointment and said that the senior-most member of the Assembly has been ignored for the post by the Governor. "The protem speaker, by convention, is the most senior MLA. We are asking for convention to be followed," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said at a press conference. Now, the Congress plans to move the SC challenging the appointment of Bopaiah as the protem Speaker. With the SC giving less than 36 hours to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority, the 75-year-old Lingayat strongman is facing a difficult challenge to convert his party's tally of 104 into the majority of 112 members. Congress and JD(S) leaders have maintained that their newly-elected members are with the party and they would not be lured by the BJP's overtures. Earlier, the Yeddyurappa camp was expecting that Congress MLAs from the Lingayat community could be lured to vote for Yeddyurappa in the floor test. But, with very little time given by the SC to conduct the floor test, the BJP leaders may not have the time to contact Congress or JD(S) MLAs and implore support from them to the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in the state. This makes it difficult to predict the outcome of Saturday's scheduled floor test. While BJP-led by Yeddyurappa will try its best to garner the necessary support from other parties, the Congress-JD(S) combine will try to fend off any poaching bid from the BJP camp. After the floor test, it would be clear if BJP retains power or it is over to the Congress-JD(S) combine to form the next government. If BJP fails to prove its majority on the floor of the House, the Congress-JD(S) combine may get a chance to form the government in the state. But, if BJP is successful in proving its majority, the Congress-JD(S) onslaught on the Governor and the BJP leadership in the state and the Centre is likely to intensify. It may up the ante in Goa, Manipur, and Meghalaya where the party is the single-largest party. The state party leaders have already sought time from the Governors in these states to stake claims to form the government on the grounds that Congress is the single-largest party. Following the Karnataka Governor's decision to invite the single-largest party to form the government, the BJP-led coalition governments in these states are likely to face protests and agitations by Congress and its alliance partners.
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