The tottering Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka suffered a further set back on Monday after Independent MLA, H Nagesh – who was appointed as a minister on June 14 – submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala and announcing his withdrawal of support to the government.
Nagesh’s decision to withdraw support comes even as the government is considering a strategy of recasting the state cabinet to lure 13 rebel MLAs who have submitted resignations to return to the coalition fold. With Nagesh’s resignation, the coalition has been virtually reduced to a minority – although there is still a lack of clarity on the exact number of MLAs who have quit.
On Saturday, the Speaker of the assembly Ramesh Kumar stated that 11 Congress and JDS MLAs submitted resignations to his office. One MLA, Anand Singh, handed his resignation earlier on July 1. A JDS leader, H Vishwanath, who was among those who resigned on Saturday, however, said a total of 14 MLAs had resigned.
There is confusion over the resignation of a Congress MLA from Bangalore, N Munirathna, with senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar claiming that he tore up the MLA’s resignation letter. Munirathna was seen among rebels on Saturday but did not travel with a group of 10 rebels to Mumbai.
There is also no clarity if Congress MLA Soumya Reddy whose father Ramalinga Reddy, also an MLA, is among those who resigned. Reddy and his daughter also did not join the rebel MLAs in Mumbai.
When the crisis began last week the coalition’s numbers included 118 MLAs (Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1 and Independents-2), besides the Speaker. The BJP, on the other hand, has 105.
If the total MLAs who have sent resignations is 14 (Congress 11 and the JDS 3), then the coalition is in a minority with the exit of the Independent MLA H Nagesh. The coalition will be at 104 as against the opposition BJP’s 105.
If only 12 or 13 resignations have been given to the Speaker’s office, the coalition still enjoys a slender majority or is on par with BJP.
With several more MLAs likely to quit the coalition, the ability of the Congress and JDS to retrieve the situation is in question.
The Speaker has asked the MLAs who have resigned to meet him personally on Tuesday as required under the anti-defection law.
The Congress which has as many as 11 MLAs in the rebel camp has called a meeting of the legislature party on Tuesday. Congress may move to take stringent action against MLAs who do not respond to conciliatory efforts to save the coalition.
In Delhi, BJP sources told The Indian Express that the party is prepared to form an alternative government but will wait for the decision of the Speaker on the resignations, after which it would make a formal move.
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