The Congress stepped up efforts to win back party rebels in Karnataka, one of whom indicated he may be willing to withdraw his resignation as a legislator, as five more MLAs moved the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking protection from action by the assembly speaker.
State housing minister and Hoskote MLA, MTB Nagaraj, said senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramiah and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, had met him and asked him to withdraw his resignation.
“I have sought time to mull over it. I told them I will speak to Chikkaballapur MLA K. Sudhakar and persuade him to withdraw his resignation. We are planning to stay here only,” Nagaraj, flanked by deputy chief ninister G Parameshwara, state water resource minister D K Shivakumar and other Congress leaders, told reporters.
“The party high command is trying to persuade the MLAs. I will also try my best to help them in their efforts,” he added before leaving for Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah’s Bengaluru residence.
Sixteen MLAs belonging to Karnataka’s ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition have submitted resignations from the assembly over the past week, plunging the 15-month-old government into a crisis and bringing it to the brink of collapse. Thirteen belong to the Congress and three to the Janata Dal (Secular). Two independent MLAs, who were made ministers recently to provide stability to the government, have quit the cabinet and withdrawn their support to the government.
The defections will trigger a legal clause that disqualifies the MLAs, bringing the 224-member assembly’s down to 208 and giving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a majority in the House. Excluding the rebels, the ruling coalition has a strength of 101, including the speaker, who cannot vote in the assembly unless it is to break a tie.
A day after chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said he would seek a trust vote in the House, the coalition intensified efforts to reach out to the rebel MLAs.
Congress’s troubleshooter Shivakumar reached Nagaraj’s residence early on Saturday and was closeted with him for four-and-a-half hours., Parameshwara too reached Nagaraj’s house later to convince him to withdraw his resignation. A similar attempt was on to persuade MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna, K Sudhakar and R Roshan Baig, PTI reported.
Politicians in the Janata Dal (Secular) familiar with the situation said Kumaraswamy was in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators.
A group of BJP leaders, led by MLA S R Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, met Ramalinga Reddy at his residence.The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) have accused the BJP of engineering the crisis in their ranks–a claim denied by the latter.
Ramalinga Reddy refused to comment on his meeting with the BJP leaders, saying he would not speak on politics until July 15, when has tol appear before the assembly speaker.
State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa said efforts by the ruling coalition partners would not yield any result, predicting that the fall of the government was “imminent”.
“There is confusion in the Congress and the JD(S) due to which the MLAs are fleeing these parties. A systematic conspiracy is going on to bring the MLAs back,” the former Karnataka chief minister told reporters.“The atmosphere is chaotic and the fall of the government is imminent,” he said.
Claiming that the ruling coalition had lost its majority in the assembly, Yeddyurappa said seeking a vote of confidence was “meaningless”.
Kumaraswamy said on Friday that he would seek a trust vote on the floor of the assembly after the Supreme Court ordered the speaker to maintain status quo on the resignations of 10 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) until July 16. The 10 have filed a petition in the top court seeking a directive to the speaker to accept their resignations.
On Saturday, five of the remaining six MLAs — Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraju, Munirathna and Roshan Baig –filed a joint petition in the court, saying they were in an identical position as the 10 MLAs who moved the court earlier this week and should be covered by the status quo placed by the court on action by the speaker.
The five rebel MLAs, in their petition on Saturday, said: “It is pertinent to state herein that the Chief Minister has announced on July 12 on the floor of the house that they would be seeking a floor test. It is submitted that despite the Applicants having resigned, the Applicants are being threatened to support the Govt. on the threat of disqualification”
“Resignation is in accordance with Article 190 and rules of business of the Karnataka assembly. The act of submitting letter in person shows voluntary nature and genuineness of the resignations. There is no need for further inquiry and must be accepted forthwith. To obviate any other doubts, the applicants are also filing affidavits along with the present application stating that they have resigned voluntarily and their resignations may be accepted,” the petition said.
Jul 13, 2019 23:26 IST