The dissident factor
Perhaps the biggest day for H D Kumaraswamy's government as the floor test gets underway today in a bid to decide whether the precariously held Congress-JD(S) government will continue or fall. A series of development took place ever since resignations of several MLAs from the government surfaced, necessitating today's floor test all the more. Amidst the glaring chaos, the picture of rebel MLAs presenting their resignations with the alleged motive of defection and the ulterior ambition to push the Kumaraswamy government off the books saw the intervention of the Supreme Court. Tuesday's hearing, in fact, also drove the Supreme Court to the extent of pronouncing the fact that there is no rule on the extent of powers exercised by the apex court. This followed when lawyers representing the Congress-JD(S) combine questioned the apex court's power to give directions to the Speaker. The writ petitions filed by the dissident legislators against the Speaker on grounds of delaying their resignation, blaming the Speaker for acting in a malafide manner in a bid to provide the waning Kumaraswamy government with something to hang on to. The Supreme Court, in its order yesterday, made it clear that the Karnataka Speaker will enjoy complete discretion and authority to decide on resignations tendered by the dissident MLAs while also asserting that legislators had every right to opt out of the Assembly proceedings, which directly meant no sense of obligation on the legislators' part to attend today's crucial floor test. In essence, the Supreme Court perceived the order as striking a prudent balance between the rights of the Speaker and the dissenting MLAs. So the interim order empowered the Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide upon the resignations as and when he considers it appropriate to which he asserted that the Court had further increased his responsibilities. Ramesh Kumar had separately iterated that the MLAs were already facing disqualification for defection and the disqualification plea by Congress preceded their resignation. It remains to be seen whether all those iterations and different angles come into play in today's floor test. BJP will be on the lookout as the outcome may shift the momentum in their favour should the Kumaraswamy government fail to prove majority, chances of which appear slim. It has been a turbulent one year for the Congress-JD(S) government which repeatedly encountered episodes of horse-trading before the general elections and dissenting MLAs up for resignations after it. Whatever may be the outcome, increased emphasis is drawn towards the unproductive and sceptical approach taken by the legislators of a government, bringing the state machinery to a halt and not letting it focus on state issues as well as important legislation to steer the state as part of duty-bound governance. On top of everything, people's mandate has been made a joke, reducing the level of sacrosanctness it is supposed to possess in our democratic setup!