Bangalore: Karnataka assembly Speaker K.G. Bopaiah Wednesday landed himself and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in a major controversy as he was not present in his office to receive the resignation letters of 13 BJP rebel legislators.
Speculation was rife about his whereabouts - from he has gone out of the country to he has been sent to a neighbouring state by the ruling party to delay receiving the resignation letters.
The issue has now reached Governor H.R. Bhardwaj as the 13 legislators met and briefed him about the absence of the speaker and sought a probe into it.
The 13 legislators who want to quit the assembly include Public Works Minister C.M. Udasi and Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who resigned from the Jagadish Shettar cabinet earlier Wednesday.
Udasi asserted that the speaker was absent even though "we had told him yesterday (Tuesday) that we will meet him today (Wednesday) to give our resignations".
Udasi, Karandlaje and the 11 legislators waited in the speaker's chamber for over an hour to submit their resignations from the assembly.
These legislators were angry that the speaker's office staff was not aware of his whereabouts - whether he is in the country or out of it.
What seems to make the matters worse is that top officials of the speaker's office were also not present in his chamber, leaving a joint secretary to pacify the agitated legislators.
This is not the first time that the speaker finds himself caught in a serious controversy.
In mid-2011, he had disqualified 11 BJP rebel legislators and six Independents just before then chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was to seek a trust vote, thereby effectively reducing the voting strength of the members in the house.
The Supreme Court had quashed his order and pulled him up for not following proper procedure.
The speaker's absence came in handy for Yeddyurappa, who has quit the BJP and the assembly to lead his own outfit, Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), to lash out at his former party and Chief Minister Shettar.
Terming the BJP and Shettar "shameless", Yeddyurappa demanded that the speaker be made to return to Bangalore "within 24 hours" to receive and accept the resignations of the rebel legislators.
These legislators want to join the KJP as they are staunch followers of Yeddyurappa.