Buffeted by threats of instability to his government by 13 rebel MLAs, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar today told Governor H R Bhardwaj he still commanded majority and hinted he has not been asked by him to prove it.
"I told the governor that there is no threat to my government as I enjoy majority," Shettar told reporters here after meeting Bhardwaj who earlier hinted that he may ask the chief minister to demonstrate his strength in the assembly.
Asked whether the governor told him to prove his majority, Shettar said the issue did not come up for discussion.
But Bhardwaj brought to his notice that 13 BJP MLAs had informed him about the "absence" of the Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah when they went to him to submit their resignations from assembly membership, he added.
Shettar said he met the governor to convey the Cabinet decision to invite him to address the joint session of the legislature on February 4. "He has agreed to address the joint session."
Prior to the meeting, Bhardwaj told reporters, "I have already summoned the assembly on February 4 and if I feel that this government has come into minority, then I will order him (Shettar) to prove his majority at the first instance before transacting any business."
Pushing the government into a crisis, the 13 MLAs loyal to Karnataka Janata Party chief and former BJP strongman B S Yeddyurappa had gone in a delegation on Wednesday to meet Bopaiah to submit their resignation from assembly membership but in vain as he was not in station. Enraged by this, they had submitted copies of their resignation letters to Bhardwaj.
The governor said he has received letters (copies) from Yeddyurappa and also the MLAs.
"In the meantime, I have dictated my orders that this is a split in the political party of the BJP. So you study the relative strength of the party in the assembly. But assembly records were not with me. Therefore I summoned the records. So I will see what is the strength."
Bhardwaj said neither Shettar nor Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok were in the city and he contacted them and told them about the developments and sought their response.
He said he had sent a communication to the government and told Shettar to immediately contact the speaker.
"... It is the duty of the government to transact business and government has to arrange for his presence."
Asked if there was a constitutional crisis and government should continue, he said, "There is constitutional law which applies straightaway that the governor has to send the matter to the floor of the House. I am thinking on that line."
In the 225 member assembly, BJP has a strength of 117 excluding Speaker and it requires 113 for a simple majority. Congress has 71 members and JDS 26. There are seven Independents and two vacancies. One member is nominated.
Bopaiah arrived in Mangalore from Mumbai, but did not speak to reporters on the developments.
On the sidelines of another function before Shettar met him, Bhardwaj told reporters: "Government transactions will (be taken up) after confidence test is taken. That is the job of the Chief Minister to get it listed through parliamentary procedure. It is a known procedure...The Governor cannot do anything. Don't want to prepone anything...It will happen in the session."
He said legislative business is government business.
"I have already prepared a letter saying in the event I feel you (Chief Minister) have a minority, be prepared to prove majority or undergo a vote of confidence. I have already summoned the Assembly on February 4, so no need of preponing it."