Karnataka governor may ask Shettar to prove majority

Bangalore, Jan 25 (IANS) Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Friday said that he may ask Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority in the wake of 13 BJP legislators deciding to quit the assembly.

"I have summoned records from the assembly (on the strength of the parties) and if necessary will direct the chief minister to prove majority," Bhardwaj told reporters here.

The state legislature is meeting for the budget session Feb 4. Shettar wants to present the 2013-14 budget Feb 8.

The 13 legislators are loyal to Bharatiya Janata Party's former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and are quitting the assembly as part of a plan to prevent Shettar from presenting the budget.

Yeddyurappa, who quit the BJP and the assembly Nov 30 to head the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), wants Shettar's minister to resign and not go in for the budget session as assembly elections are due in May.

Bhardwaj said he asked the government to ensure early return of Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, whose whereabouts since Wednesday have been a mystery.

Bhardwaj's move follows the 13 BJP rebels petitioning him Wednesday to intervene and ensure the speaker accepts their resignation immediately.

The legislators sought Bhardwaj's intervention as the speaker was not present in his office when they went there to submit their resignation letters Wednesday.

The rebels claim that they had informed the speaker Tuesday that they would meet him Wednesday and he had told them that he would be in office.

C.M. Udasi and Shobha Karandlaje are among the 13 MLAs who quit the Shettar ministry Wednesday.

While the speaker and his office have remained silent on his whereabouts, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Appachu Ranjan said that he had gone abroad and would return Jan 28.

Ranjan told reporters in Madikeri, the main town in speaker's home district of Kodagu, about 250 km from here, that the speaker's programme was fixed a fortnight ago.

The resignation of the 13 legislators, which the speaker has no option but to accept now, would bring down the BJP's strength to 105, including the speaker, in the 225-member assembly.

Of the 225 members, 224 are elected and one is a nominated member.

The effective strength of the assembly now is 223 as two -- Yeddyurappa and another BJP legislator Haladi Srinivas Shetty from the coastal town of Kundapura -- have quit.

The BJP has the support of one of the seven independent members who is a cabinet minister.

The party is said to be wooing the other six independents to back it.

The Congress has 71 members and the Janata Dal-Secular 26. The two parties are also opposing Shettar's move to present the budget.

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