With hours to go for a debate on a trust vote in the Karnataka assembly, rebel Congress legislator Ramalinga Reddy on Wednesday evening said he will withdraw his resignation and vote in favour of the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition government that has been on brink of collapse ever since 16 legislators resigned and two independents pulled their support.
"I will take part in the assembly session and vote in favour of the party. I will continue to remain in the party and serve as MLA," Mr Reddy, a veteran Congress leader, told news agency PTI.
Ramalinga Reddy is among 16 legislators of Karnataka's ruling coalition who have resigned over the past two weeks; two independent lawmakers quit as ministers and withdrew support to the ruling coalition.
If all the resignations are accepted, the state government will lose its majority. The coalition's 118 members will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two independents, which would take its tally to 107. With Ramalinga Reddy's decision, the coalition would be at 101.
Soon after Mr Reddy had resigned, his daughter and lawmaker Sowmya Reddy had justified the move, saying he was upset with the double standards in the party. "We feel betrayed by the state Congress leadership. It has been 13 months. The first time he (Ramalinga Reddy) spoke up was in December," she had said.
While most rebel lawmakers have been camped in Mumbai ever since resigning, Mr Reddy has been in Bengaluru, amid reports that the Congress was trying to pacify him. The party had also left him out while moving the Assembly Speaker for disqualification of the rebel MLAs, saying he was an "exception", PTI reported.
Other rebel lawmakers, however, have said there is no question of stepping back on their resignations.
The rebels had gone to the Supreme Court accusing the Speaker of sitting on their resignations to buy time for the shaky coalition, but the top court on Wednesday said the Speaker is free to decide on their status.
The court also said the rebel lawmakers should not be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the state assembly. This means the government cannot use whips to force the dissident lawmakers to participate in the trust vote.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's move to seek a floor test is seen as a last-ditch attempt to save the teetering coalition that came to power last May after an election that gave no clear majority to any party.
The BJP says the coalition government must resign because it has "lost its moral authority to rule." The party has been accused by the Congress and the JDS of crafting the crisis to try and seize power in Karnataka, more than a year after it fell short of a majority in state polls.
With inputs from PTI