Chaos in Council as Cong, BJP wrestle to occupy chair

Chaos in Council as Cong, BJP wrestle to occupy chair
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Chaos in Council as Cong, BJP wrestle to occupy chair  

Highlights

A high drama was witnessed in the Karnataka Legislative Council on Tuesday with Congress legislators trying to drag off Deputy Chairman S.L. Dharme Gowda from the chair which he had occupied before Chairman Prathapchandra Sehtty arrived

Bengaluru:A high drama was witnessed in the Karnataka Legislative Council on Tuesday with Congress legislators trying to drag off Deputy Chairman S.L. Dharme Gowda from the chair which he had occupied before Chairman Prathapchandra Sehtty arrived. A tug of war ensued as BJP MLCs then tried to pull Dharme Gowda back into the chair of the Council chairman.

The Congress claimed that the ruling BJP contrived to close the doors of the House to prevent the Chairman from entering the council during the one-day session reconvened by the Yediyurappa government to pass the bill to ban cow slaughter after it was adjourned sine die by Prathapchandra Shetty on December 11. The drama began over a no-confidence motion against Council Chairman Prathapchandra Shetty, who belongs to the Congress. Congress MLCs alleged that the Deputy Chairman forcibly occupied the chair after locking Prathap Chandra Shetty out. Congress MLCs Naseer Ahmed and Narayana Swamy and others were seen pulling the Deputy Chairman out of his chair. On the other side, BJP MLCs were seen pulling Dharme Gowda back into the chair. Over a dozen marshals were attempting to restore order and protect the Deputy Chairman.

The contentious Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, that was passed in the Assembly was among those which were to be tabled in the Council on Tuesday.

Reacting to the incident, Congress MLC Prakash Rathod explained that the Deputy Chairman was "evicted" as it was an "illegal session". The BJP and JD(S) placed him on the Chair illegally when the House was not in order. It is unfortunate that the BJP is resorting to unconstitutional acts. The Congress first asked him (Deputy Chairman) to vacate the seat. It seems to be well-planned because the entrance for the Chairman had been forcibly closed by the BJP before he arrived.

The BJP government called the session to move a no-confidence motion against Pratapchandra Shetty apart from getting the cow slaughter ban bill passed. The ruling BJP is the single largest party in the Council with 31 members, followed by Congress with 29 including the Chairman. The JD(S) has 14 members and there is one independent. BJP had planned to remove the Chairman with the support of JD(S) legislators.

As soon as the session started, the BJP and JD(S) asked Deputy Chairman Dharme Gowda, a JD(S) member to take the chairman's seat. This angered the Congress MLCs who rushed into the well demanding that he vacate it, following which BJP and JD(S) members came to Shetty's protection.

Soon, members from both the parties threw agenda copies and were seen dragging each other and removing the fibre sheets fixed between two as a precautionary measures against coronavirus.

After some time Pratapachandra Shetty entered the house and managed to go up to the chair, from where he announced that the house was adjourned sine die. The BJP and JD(S) have decided to petition the Governor against the Chairman and on the developments today. Senior ministers also went into a huddle with JD(S) leaders and the Deputy Chairman on the next course of action.

Terming the Chairman's act of adjourning the house sine die as unlawful, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters outside the Council hall that "he (Shetty) cannot do it as there is no-confidence against him. ...We will go to the Governor who is the custodian of both houses." Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said the Chairman had no right, as it had been fourteen plus five days since no-confidence notice was sent, adding, as Shetty could run the House, the Deputy Chairman was requested to occupy the Chair. "...We had last night itself written to the Chairman, requesting him not to conduct the proceedings of the House as the no-confidence motion against him has to be taken up. We had also requested the Deputy Chairman to conduct the proceedings," he said.

Leader of the opposition in the Council S R Patil alleged that the Deputy Chairman occupied the chair against the rules and procedures and it was against the Constitution. Senior JD(S) MLC Basavaraj Horatti said as the no- confidence motion was against the Chairman and he has lost the support of majority of members, on the government's insistence the Deputy Chairman occupied the Chair, He termed as 'shameful,' the developments in the 113 year-old Council's history.

With the House being adjourned sine-die,other subjects in the agenda,including the contentious anti cow slaughter bill passed by the assembly, were not taken up.

Prathapchandra Shetty was elected Chairman of the upper house in November 2018 during the tenure of the 14-month JD(S)-Congress coalition government. Deputy Chairman Dharme Gowda, who was with the JD(S), was elected in December 2018.

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