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BJP Govt Is in Majority, No Crisis in K'taka: Governor

In a relief to ruling BJP that faced threats of instability, Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj today said the Jagadish Shettar Ministry still enjoyed majority after 13 party MLAs announced their resignation, but he would order a floor test if he felt it has been reduced to minority.

"On the day on which the government comes into minority even with one MLA less, I will issue notice. Now 13 MLAs have resigned but the government is still in majority," he told reporters as Shettar stood next to him after the Republic Day function here.

Bhardwaj said he would act according to the advice of Shettar as long as he was the Chief Minister, but wouldn't do so after his government had lost majority. "I will not do any unconstitutional work. I am watching," he said.

Question marks over the Shettar government's survival were raised after 13 MLAs loyal to Karnataka Janata Party chief and former BJP strongman B S Yeddyurappa announced their decision to quit assembly membership.

The MLA's bid to push the government into a corner, however, had been in vain as Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah was not in station, an issue over which they cried foul and petitioned the Governor to whom they submitted copies of their resignation letters.

The Governor's remarks come as a relief to the over six-month old Shettar Government as it has belied hopes, at least for the present, of Yeddyurappa to force the exit of the BJP Ministry ahead of assembly elections due in May.

Bhardwaj said today that Shettar was the Leader of the BJP Legislature Party and it was left to him to take action on the issue of resignation by 13 MLAs.

Noting that the Assembly has been convened to meet from February 4 for the Budget session, Bhardwaj said he was studying the situation. "I hope Karnataka continues to function as per the Constitution and we (I and Chief Minister) will not rush through," he said.

Asked if he would direct Bopaiah to accept the resignation of 13 BJP legislators, he said said Speaker's was an independent and very high office and he cannot dictate terms.

To a query on Yeddyurappa's remarks that the state was facing a Constitutional crisis following the resignation of the 13 MLAs, Bhardwaj said the government still enjoyed majority and it was left to Shettar to act in this regard.

"However, each day of the budget session is a test for the government. We should not say there is a Constitutional crisis. We are living in a democracy which has been interpreted by the highest court of the land (Supreme Court in the S R Bommai case). I will not go against the Constitution."

Bhardwaj said he would be addressing the joint session of legislature as it is his obligation and a privilege to do so.

"But I am watching the situation minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour and day-by-day. I will protect the Constitution and he (Shettar) has assured me in this regard," he said.

Shettar said his government enjoyed majority and would present the budget. "There is no threat to my government. The Governor has agreed to address the Joint Session."

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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