Karnataka Ruling Coalition On The Brink After 11 Lawmakers Quit

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and state minister DK Shivakumar have called an emergency meeting of legislators and corporators.

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If resignations are accepted, Congress-JDS government numbers will fall to 105 in Karnataka Assembly


Bengaluru: 

Highlights

  1. 11 lawmakers from the ruling Karnataka coalition government have resigned
  2. If resignations are accepted, coalition comes close to losing majority
  3. The year-old Congress-JDS coalition has struggled with revolt, infighting

The Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition government in Karnataka appears to be teetering on the edge with 11 lawmakers resigning, while Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is still in the US on holiday. Eight Congress and three Janata Dal Secular legislators submitted their resignations to the Speaker this evening, while he was not in office. The legislators then also met the Governor at the Raj Bhavan. If the resignations are accepted, the coalition will be close to collapse.

"We have given our resignation to the Speaker's office. We have brought this to the notice of the governor as well. We urge that our resignations be accepted," H Vishwanath, a lawmaker of the chief minister's JDS said after meeting the Governor. Mr Vishwanath was removed as JDS state president just days ago. The legislators who resigned flew out of Bengaluru later in the evening.

The Congress and JDS together have 116 in the 224-member state assembly where 113 is the majority mark. The coalition will crash if 14 lawmakers quit.

The year-old coalition, wobbly from the start, has struggled with revolt and infighting since it came to power in May last year. This time, it is Congress loyalist Ramalinga Reddy who is preparing to cross over with a group if lawmakers.

"I have come to submit my resignation to speaker," Ramalinga Reddy told news agency ANI while waiting at Speaker Ramesh Kumar's office. "I am not going to blame anyone in the party or the high command. I somewhere feel I was being neglected over some issues. That is why I have taken this decision," he added.

Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar, the Congress trouble shooter who has spent many months trying to keep the flock together, coaxed three Congress lawmakers, including Ramalinga Reddy, to go with him, after meeting the rebels at the Speaker's office. But they were later seen entering the Governor's office.

Mr Shivakumar also conceded that he tore up resignation letters of the rebelling lawmakers, as alleged by opposition BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, defending the action as one out of "emotion".

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Mr Shivakumar have called an emergency meeting of legislators and corporators. Besides the Chief Minister, state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao is also away, but is rushing back to Bengaluru. 

The Congress, after a meeting of senior leaders in Delhi this evening, blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP for the lawmakers quitting. "Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram has a new definition now: Mischievously Orchestrating Defections In India - MODI," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

"If PM and the government of the day are going to encourage defections to bring down elected governments, who will protect the Constitution and democracy" he asked.

The BJP, which has 105 legislators, says the party has nothing to do with the walkout by the Congress legislators - and says if the government falls, the BJP should be invited to form government. 

Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said Mr Shivakumar tore the resignation letters of some of the legislators. "People are watching the way DK Shivakumar is behaving. He tore resignation letters of some of the MLAs inside the Speaker's office, who had went to resign, it is condemnable."

Mr Kumaraswamy as well as the Congress have accused the BJP of relentlessly pursuing their lawmakers and attempting to bring the government down.

On Monday, two Congress legislators, Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi had resigned, bringing the ruling coalition of the JDS and the Congress down to 116. The resignation of the two legislators has not been formally accepted though. 

Anand Singh said he was resigning as he was unhappy with a land deal between the state government and JSW Steel in his home district of Ballari. Mr Jarkiholi gave no reason in his resignation letter. But he had distanced himself from the party ever since he was dropped from the cabinet -- skipping party meets and holding meetings with other MLAs believed to be unhappy with the Congress.

The Congress has 79 legislators including Mr Singh and Mr Jarkiholi.

Mr Kumaraswamy's JDS has 37 legislators. It also has the support of a BSP legislator and an Independent. Even without two lawmakers who quit, the coalition still has a majority with 116 legislators.

The Congress-JDS coalition suffered a disastrous outing in the Lok Sabha election; the two parties managed just one seat in the 28 seat- state. The rest were scooped up by the BJP, led by former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa. The two parties had joined forces after the assembly elections last year in May to keep the BJP out of power.



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