Two more Congress legislators submitted their resignation to the Karnataka speaker today, worsening the crisis for the state's ruling coalition, even as party troubleshooter DK Shivakumar tried desperately but failed to meet the rebel lawmakers who are camped at a hotel in Mumbai. He is being sent back to Bengaluru by the Mumbai Police.
Since last week, the year-old Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka has been fighting for survival. With the resignation of legislators MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar today, the number of rebels has gone up to 18.
Mr Nagaraj told reporters that he was "fed up" with politics and wished to retire from public life. "I don't want any ministerial position or anything. I am fed up with politics," Mr Nagaraj was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
The Speaker, KR Ramesh Kumar, said as in the case of the other legislators, the law will take its own course. "The law cannot deviate from person to person, it is uniform for one and all," he told news agency ANI after the two legislators met him. After examining the resignations of 13 lawmakers on Tuesday, the Speaker had declared that eight were "not in order". The rebels have approached the Supreme Court alleging the speaker has "abandoned his constitutional duty" and is deliberately delaying accepting their resignations.
13 rebels have been in Mumbai since they submitted their resignations on Saturday. If the resignations stand, the Karnataka coalition will lose its majority.
Mr Shivakumar was detained by the Mumbai police along with other party leaders from near a five-star hotel in Mumbai where he had waited for six hours to meet the rebel lawmakers. The senior Congress leader had been stopped from entering the Renaissance hotel after the rebels asked the Mumbai police for protection from him and other Karnataka coalition leaders who are trying to bring them around.
Mr Shivakumar was later escorted to the airport by the Mumbai Police. "Mr Milind Deora and other Congress leaders have been released. The police is taking Mr DK Shivkumar to the airport. He is being forcibly sent back to Bengaluru," the office of Mr Deora tweeted.
The rebel lawmakers, flown to Mumbai by a special plane linked to BJP parliamentarian Rajeev Chandrashekhar, had checked into Sofitel on Saturday and moved to the Renaissance Hotel on Monday. The BJP, which failed to form government in Karnataka last year after falling short of a majority, has denied any role in the coalition crisis. But the Congress pointed out that BJP leaders have been regular visitors to the Mumbai hotels where the lawmakers are staying.
The BJP, which will have a majority if the resignations hold, has launched protests and demanded that the coalition be sacked as it has lost its majority.
If the rebels don't waver, the Congress-JDS coalition's 118 members in the 224-seat state assembly will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 104. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which takes its tally to 107.