Bangalore, Jan 29 — Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.G. Bopaiah late Tuesday accepted the resignation of 12 of 13 rebel BJP lawmakers from the assembly, leaving the Jagadish Shettar government with a wafer thin majority in the house.
The speaker’s decision came after over eight-hour drama and a threat by the legislators not to leave his office till their resignations, submitted around 11.30 a.m., were accepted.
Though 13 submitted the resignations, only 12 were accepted and one rejected on technical grounds, the speaker’s office said in a release.
The legislators are followers of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and ex-chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and would now quit the party and join Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) led by him.
The resignations bring down the strength of the BJP to 106, including the speaker, in the 225-member assembly, in which two seats were vacant as Yeddyurappa and another BJP legislator Haladi Srinivas Shetty from coastal town of Kundapur had quit the house earlier.
The ruling party has the support of one of the seven Independents who is a cabinet minister. There is one nominated member who belongs to BJP.
The Congress has 71 members and the Janata Dal-Secular 26.
The “delay” in the speaker’s decision had led to an unprecedented development in Karnataka politics with the rebel legislators staying put in his office for over eight hours and trying to make arrangements to spend the night there.
“We will continue the dharna (sit-in) till our resignation is accepted,” B.P. Harish, one of the rebel law makers, had told reporters outside the speaker’s office in the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat in Bangalore city centre.
The resignations are part of Yeddyurappa’s plan to prevent Shettar from presenting the budget for the year 2013-14 on Feb 8. The 10-day budget session of the legislature is scheduled to begin Feb 4.
Shortly after the 13 submitted the resignation letters to Bopaiah, his office announced that he has accepted the resignation of only one, that of Thippeswamy who represented Challakere constituency in Chitradurga district, about 200 km north of Bangalore.
Bopaiah was understood to be taking time to decide on the resignation of the 12 as two other BJP law makers had sought their disqualification for “anti-party activities” in view of their open support for Yeddyurappa.
The petition to disqualify the 12 lawmakers was filed Monday.
While Bopaiah and his office did not give any official reason for the delay in deciding on the resignation of the 12 legislators, official sources said the speaker has sought the advice of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on whether he can accept the resignations in view of the petition for their disqualification.
Those who were on ‘dharna’ at the speaker’s office included C.M. Udasi, Shobha Karandlaje and Sunil Vallyapure, who were ministers. Udasi and Karandlaje quit last Wednesday while Vallyapure resigned last month.
Udasi handled public works department, Karandlaje energy and Vallyapure infrastructure development.
The resignations were to be submitted to Bopaiah last Wednesday but could not be done as he went out of Bangalore the previous day.
Upset that he was not present in spite of being informed Tuesday about the plan to meet him the next day to submit the resignations, the legislators had met and complained about the development to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj.
They had also given Bhardwaj copies of their resignation letters and urged him to intervene for their immediate acceptance by the speaker.
After keeping quiet for three days on his whereabouts, Bopaiah said late Friday that he had been to Nepal on a “private visit”.