One of the rebel lawmakers of the Congress in Karnataka, who on Saturday raised hopes for the troubled coalition in the southern state by hinting he may take back his resignation, was today seen in Mumbai, creating a buzz on his next move.
Congress legislator MTB Nagaraj, one of the 16 coalition legislators who had resigned from the state assembly, had agreed to come back to the coalition fold after being coaxed by Congress leader Siddaramaiah and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. He later put a condition to his return – another rebel Sudhakar Rao will have to withdraw his resignation as well.
On Sunday, Mr Nagaraj was seen climbing into a jet with state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa’s personal assistant, Santosh, walking behind him at HAL airport in Bengaluru. Over an hour later, he emerged from Mumbai airport. This was the third time the aide of the former chief minister from the BJP was seen escorting rebel lawmakers to a waiting aircraft, sources said.
“I will request Kumaraswamy to resign immediately because more than 15 MLAs from JDS and Congress, and also two Independent ministers have resigned and they have reflected that they will support BJP,” Mr Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru today, news agency ANI reported.
Though the weekend has been relatively calm in Karnataka with most lawmakers from the ruling coalition and the BJP spending time in resorts and hotels in Bengaluru and Maharashtra, tucked away from poaching by each other’s parties, hectic backroom manoeuvring is going on.
Congress lawmaker Muniratna, who is seen to be close to the party’s troubleshooter DK Shivakumar, reportedly met Congress rebel Ram Linga Reddy in Bengaluru today. Some of the rebel lawmakers from different constituencies of Bengaluru, who are staying in a Mumbai hotel, are said to be close to Ram Linga Reddy. The Congress reportedly approached him in an attempt to win him and them back.
Muniratna may fly to Mumbai today to meet two more Congress rebels, ST Somashekar and Byrathi Basvaraj, sources said.
The Supreme Court on Friday said it should be status quo on the resignation or disqualification of 10 rebel coalition legislators – five others also approached the top court on Saturday. The next major political step is expected only early next week. The Speaker, KR Ramesh Kumar, is also likely to take a call on those resignations by then.
If the resignations are accepted, 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 takes its tally to 107.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of the JDS has asked the Speaker to allow him to prove his government’s majority on the floor of the house – and Wednesday is the likely day for that, after the Supreme Court hears the matter of the resignations on Tuesday.
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