The precarious Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka remained on tenterhooks as two more Congress MLAs—MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar—submitted their resignations to the Speaker of the Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
The development came amidst high drama in Mumbai where police detained minister D K Shivakumar who was on a mission to woo back a dozen rebels lodged in a luxury hotel. Police also detained Milind Deora and others before releasing them in the evening, following which Shivakumar was sent packing back to Bengaluru.
The Congress leaders were detained while they were waiting outside Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel gate to meet the 10 dissident JD(S)-Congress legislators who have been holed up in the premises since Saturday. The rebels had approached the Mumbai police, saying they felt “threatened” by their state leaders and did not wish to meet them in this regard.
Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, KC Venugopal, Mallikarjun Kharge, G. Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Eshwara Khandre and others met following the resignation of two MLAs. “Next course of action…lot of action is coming up. These meetings are going to continue,” Dinesh Gundu Rao told ANI.
D K Shivakumar— Detained, released and sent back to Bengaluru
After being detained in the morning, Shivakumar was released from the police custody in the evening. But soon after the release, police escorted him to the airport and sent him back to Bengaluru. In a statement to ANI, Shivakumar said, “I am still confident that all of them will come back. Congress-JD(S) govt which is there will be safe. None of them is leaving the party.”
Earlier this morning, Shivakumar exuded confidence and said, “I know them well. This BJP relationship (with the MLAs) is two-three days old but my relationship with them is 40 years. I know them, my heart works with them, my heart is open to them. I know their hearts, I know their feelings, I will win them, I will take them (MLAs to Karnataka).”
Reflecting on the development, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy lashed out at the Maharashtra government and tweeted: “Manhandling Ministers and MLAs is very annoying and unbecoming of #MumbaiPolice. Such hasty Act by Maharashtra Government reinforces the suspicion on #BJP of #HorseTrading. This is a blackmark on the republic setup of our country.@CMOMaharashtra @narendramodi @Dev_Fadnavis”
The crack in Karnataka govt widens: Resignation toll touches 16
The resignation of Congress MLAs Nagaraj and Sudhakar, if accepted, would reduce the strength of the wobbly coalition to 101 in the 224-member House. In contrast, the BJP has a total of 105 legislators besides having the support of two Independents. So far, a total of 13 Congress MLAs and three JDS MLAs have given their resignations.
Both MLAs who were considered to be loyalists of former chief minister Siddaramaiah. Nagaraj claimed that CM Kumaraswamy’s constant intervention in different constituencies and ministries was the major reason for MLAs quitting the coalition.
‘Kumaraswamy has no moral right to continue as CM’: Yeddyurappa
Several state BJP leaders, including former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa, took part in the protest led by Yeddyurappa. After meeting with the Karnataka Governor, Yeddyurappa said, “I requested the Governor to convey to the Speaker that he should take necessary action immediately. Kumaraswamy has no moral right to continue as CM, they don’t have the numbers.”
Supreme Court to take up plea by rebel MLAs tomorrow
After Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar did not accept the resignations of the nine of the rebel MLAs, they moved the Supreme Court and the apex court agreed to hear the plea on Thursday.
The counsel for Karnataka rebel MLAs, Mukul Rohatgi told news agency ANI: “The petition has been filed by 10 MLAs. They have resigned voluntarily & they are complaining that Speaker is not taking immediate decision and is deliberately delaying it for various reasons.”
On Tuesday, nine of the 14 coalition MLAs resignations’ were rejected on the grounds that they were not tendered in the right format and the Speaker fixed six days to meet and interview five MLAs whose resignations were found to be in order. Speaker Kumar said, “I have not accepted any resignation, I can’t do it overnight like that. I have given them time on 17th. I’ll go through the procedure and take a decision.”