In a breather for the precarious Congress-JD(S) coalition government, Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar Tuesday rejected the resignations of nine of 14 coalition MLAs on the ground that they were not tendered in the correct format.
The Speaker has fixed dates over the next six days to meet and interview the five MLAs whose resignations were found to be in order.
The Speaker’s decision gives the Congress-JD(S) combine breathing room to pull the government back from the brink of collapse — if the resignations were accepted, the alliance would have been reduced to a minority of 103 in the 224-member House, after two Independent MLAs, too, withdrew support and tendered resignations Monday.
The Speaker’s decision is likely to stall the Opposition BJP, which has 105 MLAs and the support of two Independents, from staking claim to form government when the Assembly convenes for a session to pass the state Budget on July 12. It also gives the Congress and JD(S) a chance to bring back many of the rebels back into coalition fold with the offer of Cabinet posts.
On Monday, the entire state Cabinet resigned in an effort to woo back the rebels with prospects of being accommodated in a reshuffle.
“Of the 14 resignations, with the exception of Anand Singh, Narayana Gowda Prathapgouda Patil, Y Gopalaiah and Ramalinga Reddy, the others are not in the correct format. We have informed these MLAs that their resignations are not in order and that they can send it in the correct format if they desire,’’ said the Speaker. Incidentally, another Congress MLA R Roshan Baig joined the rebels Tuesday and tendered his resignation too.
Meanwhile, Congress leader and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar is scheduled land in Mumbai to meet dissident legislators who have been in Mumbai since they resigned. In Mumbai, rebel Congress MLA B C Patil said that he did not expect a ministerial post but wanted the ouster of the Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy-led government claiming no work had been done in North Karnataka.
“The BJP has not given us any offer. All the claims of offers are completely wrong,” he said, adding that there were monetary and ministerial offers in 2018 which were not accepted. Asked about the Speaker rejecting resignations, Patil said: “We will go to Bangalore to meet the Speaker to give our resignations again. We will take a call on going to Bangalore after we get official communication from the Assembly Speaker.”
The Speaker’s office had received 13 resignations on July 6 and rejected nine after perusing them in his office. “The 13 resignations are of S T Somashekhar, Adagur Vishwanath, Munirathna, B A Basaravaj, Prathapgouda Patil, B C Patil, Ramesh Jharkiholi, Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumatahalli, Gopalaiah, Narayana Gowda, Ramalinga Reddy and Anand Singh. Today, Roshan Baig has given his resignation and gone,’’ said Speaker Kumar.
The five MLAs whose resignations are in order have been asked to meet the Speaker in two batches on July 12 and 15 to explain the circumstances of their resignations.
The office of the Speaker is also examining complaints filed against the resignations by members of the public and will hold a public hearing before deciding the resignations, Kumar said. The Congress Tuesday also pressed for the disqualification of some its rebel MLAs on the basis of an application filed earlier this year against some of the MLAs.
“KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Congress leader in the legislature Siddaramaiah have given a report against some MLAs – Ramesh Jharkiholi and others – saying that there is already an application filed against them. I have asked the Congress leaders also to come on Friday to place their arguments. I will issue notices to the concerned MLAs after this,’’ he said.
Earlier, Congress MLA Roshan Baig – who was issued a notice by a Special Investigation Team of the Bengaluru police Tuesday to appear for questioning on July 11 in connection with the multi-crore IMA Group ponzi investment scam – submitted his resignation to the Speaker.
“I have personally met the Speaker and given my resignation. I am not going to Mumbai or Goa. I am the Haj committee chairman and will remain in Bangalore,” Baig said.
Kumar, however, indicated that Baig’s resignation was among the nine not in order when examined. A BSP MLA N Mahesh also met the Speaker on Tuesday but stated that he is still with the coalition.