Bangalore/New Delhi, (IANS) The opposition Congress Saturday demanded that Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa step down in view of the Supreme Court strictures and restoration of the membership of 16 rebel legislators who had withdrawn support to him last year.
The development came even as Governor H.R. Bhardwaj met the prime minister in New Delhi.
Yeddyurappa waited Saturday for Governor Bhardwaj's nod for convening the assembly from May 16 ostensibly to pass the budget.
The 16 lawmakers, 11 of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and five Independents, were disqualified Oct 11, hours before Yeddyurappa was to seek the confidence vote in the assembly. The trust vote and their disqualication followed the 16 members' withdrawal of support to Yeddyurappa.
Bhardwaj, who has been highly critical of the Yeddyurappa government's functioning, Saturday referred to the Supreme Court rap on the chief minister and Speaker K.G. Bopaiah for disqualifying the 16 rebel lawmakers.
"The Supreme Court has now clearly said the speaker and the chief minister acted in violation of constitution and procedural norms in dealing with their MLAs," Bhardwaj told reporters in New Delhi after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Bhardwaj said the meeting with Singh was a "courtesy call" and the Karnataka developments were not discussed.
Asked whether he would again direct Yeddyurappa to seek a trust vote following the 16 rebels winning back their assembly membership, Bhardwaj said, "It is too premature".
On his nod for an assembly session from May 16, the governor said he would take a decision on reaching Bangalore, most probably Sunday.
Yeddyurappa, whose survival now depends on the decision of the 16 rebel lawmakers, decided to convene the assembly session from May 16 for ten days, hours after the apex court quashed the disqualification of these legislators.
The opposition Janata Dal-Secular has opposed holding the assembly session and has urged Bhardwaj not to agree to it.
JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda said Friday that the "sudden move to convene the assembly raises suspicion about the purpose. Hence the governor should not agree to it."
State Congress president G. Parameshwar and Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah Saturday told reporters that Yeddyurappa and Bopaiah should quit in view of the Supreme Court rap.
Their demand came as Yeddyurappa sent Excise Minister M.P. Renukacharya to New Delhi Saturday to win back the support of the rebel lawmakers.
Yeddyurappa needs the support of at least six rebel lawmakers for comfortable majority in the 225-member assembly that includes one nominated member.
Excluding the 11 rebels, the BJP has 109 members in the house, the Congress has 71 and the JD-S 26. There are six Independents, including the five whose membership was restored by the apex court. One of the six Independents is supporting the BJP. One seat is vacant.
Most of the 16 rebel lawmakers, who were in New Delhi for the Friday verdict, have stayed back in the national capital to decide their next steps.
Soon after winning their case Friday, they told reporters that there was no change in their stand for removal of Yeddyurappa.
On Saturday, one of the BJP rebel lawmakers and former fisheries minister Anand Asnotikar said in New Delhi the 11 legislators had not left the party and were only demanding leadership change in Karnataka.
"We are against the leadership," he maintained and said, "We will consult our supporters and decide the next steps."
The rebels were disqualified by Speaker Bopaiah just hours ahead of the confidence vote sought by Yeddyurappa on Oct 11.
In October last year, Governor Bhardwaj had directed the chief minister to seek the trust vote on the floor of the assembly as these rebels had submitted a memorandum to him saying they no longer supported Yeddyurappa, which reduced his ministry to a minority in the 218-member assembly.