Floor test: Thriller waiting to unfold

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]eddyurappa has yielded the first round even before the floor test is held, by asking for more time, which the Supreme Court refused to grant. Since the 3-member Bench did not want to pronounce a hasty verdict on whether the Governor was right or wrong in inviting the BJP to form the government, it opted for the easiest way out: an early floor test.

This would make the issue of who gets invited first redundant as both the sides will have the opportunity of proving their respective claims on the floor of the House on Saturday. Manu Abhishek Singhvi, counsel for the Congress, had also asked for an early floor test.

It is a hypothetical issue, but counsel for Yeddyurappa, Mukul Rohtagi, had the opportunity of turning turn the tables on his opponent by offering to hold the floor test, say, by the evening, which would have created a piquant situation for the petitioners. It would have been really embarrassing for them to explain that their MLAs had been packed off to Hyderabad for fear of poaching or whatever. It would have provided a context for bringing in the issue of forcibly confining the newly elected members of the Congress and the JD(S).

In a late-night twist, the Congress has rushed to the Supreme Court again with a complaint against the appointment of KG Bopaiah of the BJP as the pro tem Speaker on the plea that he is not the seniormost. Apart from the unseemly controversy, in terms of number crunching, that could mean one vote less for Yeddyurappa unless the Speaker can vote in a trial of strength.

Both the sides are brimming with confidence. BJP sources claim that they enjoy the support of 120 MLAs, while the Congress-JD(S) alliance is sticking to the original claim of 117. Since there is no elasticity for the total, there is no way both claims can be true. The Congress has conceded the case of two wayward MLAs from their flock, who are believed to have made it to the BJP camp as they had literally missed the bus to Hyderabad. Another three MLAs are reportedly in line to make the switch.

There is surely an X-factor which is acting in favour of Yeddyurappa as he is the tallest Lingayat leader in Karnataka politics today, and Siddaramaiah had rubbed the community the wrong way through his ill-advised move to engineer a communal divide. There is a certain uneasiness in the Congress-JD(S) camp about the possibility of their MLAs closing ranks to come to the rescue of the leader who has done the Lingayats proud. And the BJP would be more than willing to reward their sacrifice. The party has provided an ideological framework for defiance by invoking the conscience vote.

All said and done, the floor test on Saturday promises to be a thriller.