Bengaluru/New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court judgement in the Karnataka MLAs disqualification case and demanded that the BJP government in the state order a probe into the roles of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the alleged “Operation Kamala 0.2” tapes.
In February, the then Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy released audio tapes that purportedly recorded conversations between state BJP President Yediyurappa, BJP MLA Shivangouda Naik, and the son of JD(S) MLA from Gurmitkal, Naganagouda Kandakur. Kumaraswamy had alleged that Yediyurappa was trying to buy the loyalty of a JD(S) MLA.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “An important judgement was delivered today regarding the disqualification of Karnataka MLAs. I want to highlight two facets of the judgement, one legal and the other political.”
Highlighting the political aspect, Singhvi said, “This is the true character of those who preach on morality in politics. They (BJP) now stand exposed completely. Is this ethical politics? They stand completely exposed.”
Singhvi demanded a fair probe against Shah and Yediyurappa over the alleged tapes.
Singhvi also demanded that the BJP government in Karnataka should immediately resign and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet members to do some “soul searching”.
Fourteen rebel MLAs of the Congress and three of the JD(S) had been disqualified under the anti-defection law by the Karnataka Speaker in July that led to toppling of the Congress-JD(S) government in the state and brought in a BJP government led by Yediyurappa.
While the Supreme Court has disqualified the rebel Independent MLAs, it has also allowed them to contest the by-elections, putting the BJP in a peculiar situation.
The Congress leader also dared the BJP to take the disqualified rebel MLAs in their fold ahead of the by-polls.
Speaking on the legal aspect of the Supreme Court judgement, Singhvi said, “The court has upheld the order in its entirety today except for one point.”
“First part of the legal facet is ‘dalbadli’ (switching party) which has been termed in the debates in the Parliament as a constitutional sin. Disqualification was provided for unethical malpractices and other allurements and hence disqualification was the punishment,” he said.
Singhvi pointed out that the Karnataka Speaker’s order, which has been upheld, records in detail, “how the Speaker had enough material to disqualify the MLAs”.
“There’s only one reason why the MLAs were made to switch and that was blameworthy, and the Supreme Court upheld the disqualification,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
The Congress leader pointed out that the Speaker’s well-reasoned order giving facts and details showing unethical malpractices was upheld by the top court.
“Those who were allured tried to cover the disqualification by preemptively trying to resign, so that they can’t be disqualified,” he alleged.
Singhvi said that the Speaker punctured this attempt by clever argument and the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the second part also.
“If it’s a constitutional sin, and if you are to be disqualified, you cannot camouflage to avoid disqualification by preemptively resigning,” he said.
Singhvi also said that when a Speaker disqualifies someone after a delay, the disqualification relates back to the act which is culpable. Actual disqualification operates from the date of culpability, and resignations will not cure disqualification. “On these three points, the Speaker has been upheld fully,” he said.
Singhvi further said that when an MLA is disqualified, it does not mean that he cannot fight the next election. If he’s prepared to subject himself to the electorate again, that part of the Speaker’s order that prevented him from contesting election has not been upheld.