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BJP clinches one-vote win in Karnataka upper House

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-06-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: The first no-trust vote against a chairman of the upper house of Karnataka legislature in its 110-year history failed on Thursday by a single vote.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) D.H Shankaramurthy, who chairs the Karnataka legislative council, survived a Congress-sponsored no-confidence motion, after the Janata Dal (Secular) and two independent candidates backed him. Thirty-seven members voted against the resolution while 36 voted in favour.

Twelve members of the JD(S) and two independents voted against the no-confidence motion, while three independents and 33 members of the Congress voted in favour of the no-confidence motion.

V.S. Ugrappa and nine other Congress members had moved the no-confidence motion against Shankaramurthy on Tuesday, without giving any reasons for seeking the removal of the senior BJP leader. The BJP and JD(S) had formed an alliance in the council which gave the chairman’s post to the saffron party and the deputy chairman’s post to the JD(S).

Ugrappa alleged corruption, impropriety and partisan behaviour on Shankarmurthy’s part while listing the allegations on Thursday as he was given 15 minutes to justify the Congress move before the vote.

“All the allegations are baseless, irresponsible and irrelevant,” Shankaramurthy said after the vote on Thursday.

The Congress has 33 members in the upper house, BJP 23 (including the chairman) and JD(S) 13, apart from five independents in the 75-member house. One seat is vacant.

“In 2015, it was an understanding that we would get the deputy chairman’s post and we supported Shankaramurthy for chairman of the house. It is an old understanding and we have just kept this status quo,” H.D. Kumaraswamy, a former chief minister and state president of the JD(S), said after the vote.

Rejecting any barbs of conducting “opportunistic politics,” he said that the it was the Congress party which was following such practices.

Kumaraswamy said that Karanataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara had approached him on Wednesday and sought his party’s support to vote in favour of Shankaramurthy’s removal and, in return, would give the deputy chairman’s seat to JD(S).

Kumaraswamy said that Parameshwara had, on Thursday morning, offered the post of chairman itself.

He dismissed allegations that JD(S) voted against the Congress to try and soften the stand against Kumaraswamy in the Janthkal mining probe, in which two other chief ministers—S.M. Krishna and Dharam Singh—are also accused.

Kumaraswamy was categorical that the current support was only part of their earlier arrangement inside the council and there has been no decision on whether the regional party would support the BJP in next year’s assembly polls.

“Under Kumaraswamy’s leadership, all JD(S) members supported the BJP. I would like to think that this support is a step towards making Karnataka Congress-Mukt Bharat,” K.S. Eshwarappa, BJP’s leader of opposition in the council said.

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