Karnataka crisis: Coalition government reduced to minority ahead of monsoon season

BENGALURU: Kar-nataka reached a climax on Monday with the coalition government effectively reduced to a minority with two independent MLAs-turned-ministers — R Shankar and H Nagesh — withdrawing their support.

The sinking government’s fate now depends on the Speaker’s decision on the resignations of the 13 MLAs and if he accepts them, the ball will be in the governor’s court.

If the resignations are accepted, Congress will have 69 (including Speaker), JDS 34, BSP 1, taking the coalition numbers to 104.  The BJP’s strength is 105 and its total will go up to 107 with support from two independents.

The BJP, which has comfortable numbers, is keeping its cards close to its chest. Sources say it hopes to form the new government as early as next week in Karnataka.

First, it was Independent MLA from Mulbagal Nagesh who resigned as minister and withdrew support to the  Kumaraswamy government,  followed hours later by Shankar.

Interestingly, this is the second time both independents have deserted the coalition. Both MLAs promptly boarded flights to Mumbai to join the other dissenting MLAs.

Meanwhile, Congress has been desperately trying to stall any other possible resignations with speculation rife that at least four more are set to switch sides, including Roshan Baig, Ramalinga Reddy and Anjali Nimbalkar. In fact, Baig is submitting his resignation on Tuesday.

Desperate to save the coalition, with all ministers quitting ‘voluntarily’ to make way for at least some disgruntled MLAs, Monday also saw the state being without a cabinet.

Push has come to shove for the Congress-JDS Government and it is willing to sacrifice everything to keep the coalition boat afloat. Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the JDS has whisked away whoever is left of its MLAs to a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

At a breakfast meeting held at Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara’s residence in the morning, 21 Congress ministers ‘voluntarily’ submitted their resignation letters.

“For the welfare of the coalition, given the current scenario, ministers have voluntarily resigned from the cabinet and have entrusted the Congress with the responsibility of reconstituting the cabinet.

I thank the ministers sincerely for their decision and sacrificing their ministership to save the coalition,” said KC Venugopal, general secretary, AICC, even as he lashed out at the BJP for allegedly destroying democracy by destabilising all non-BJP governments across the country by either misusing central agencies to harass opposition leaders or luring MLAs with money and power.

Kumaraswamy held meetings with JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda and party leaders before meeting Congress ministers.

“All ministers from #JDS have submitted their resignations just like the 21 ministers from #Congress. Cabinet reshuffle will happen soon”  the Chief Minister tweeted. He told media persons that the BJP has been destroying democracy at will and the crisis was the handiwork of the saffron party.

Even as Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar is set to review the 13 resignations on Tuesday, Congress has begun considering legal action against MLAs who delivered it a shock.

Three MLAs likely to go back to Congress

Also, leaders like Ramalinga Reddy won’t join the BJP immediately, sources said.

According to them, Soumya Reddy, Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter, will move from Jayanagar constituency to BTM Layout, contest from there for BJP and will be given a minister’s post.

While three of the MLAs who resigned could go back to the Congress fold, the BJP has planned for this eventuality as well, sources said.

“The party has already listed out three names to replace MLAs Somashekar, Munirathna and Byrathi Basavaraju even if they leave the group,” the source said.

Congress rebel Roshan Baig and Anjali Nimbalkar could also figure as part of the plans.

Meanwhile, there is speculation among party leaders of a meeting to be held on Tuesday, after Speaker Ramesh Kumar takes a call on the resignations.

The BJP is counting on the Speaker saying that he would review the resignations on Tuesday.

“The only option besides accepting the resignations is that he can buy time by asking them to appear individually in front of him or in a group and ask them if they have resigned under pressure. If any of them back out at this time, the BJP has another plan in place,” a source from the party said.

The Congress is also alleging that some of the MLAs were asked to resign under threat by a few central agencies.

“Agencies like the ED and the Income Tax department were used to threaten a few of our MLAs. It is a tactic by the BJP,” a Congress leader said.

MONDAY THRILLER

  • CM Kumaraswamy holds talks with JDS chief Deve Gowda.
  • Congress ministers submit resignations at a breakfast meeting at Dy Chief Minister G Parameshwara’s residence.
  • JDS ministers follow suit to ensure the survival of coalition and make way for rebel MLAs.
  • Independent MLA-turned-minister H Nagesh resigns from cabinet, withdraws support, leaves for Mumbai.
  • BJP decides to stage statewide protest demanding Kumaraswamy’s resignation.
  • Another independent MLA-turned-minister R Shankar quits.