THE LONE minister from the BSP in the Congress-JDS alliance government in Karnataka sprang a surprise on the coalition government on Thursday by announcing his resignation as the minister for primary and secondary education.
N Mahesh, the BSP legislator from Kollegal reserved constituency, who was inducted into the cabinet by the JD(S) to honour its pre-poll alliance with the BSP, stepped down barely four months into his tenure. He told the media that he was stepping down to focus on the BSP’s preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
However, sources in the JD(S), who held discussions with Mahesh after his resignation, said the decision to quit the government was taken by the MLA on the basis of instructions issued by BSP chief Mayawati a few days ago.
Mayawati, who is attempting to maintain distance from the Congress in the run-up to the polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, asked Mahesh to step down from the Congress-JDS alliance government in the “overall interest of the BSP”, JDS sources said.
“There have been accusations that I am not concentrating on the welfare of my constituency after becoming a minister. There is also a need to strengthen the party at the grassroots ahead of the Lok Sabha polls,” Mahesh said while officially announcing his decision to quit as a minister. “I have no complaints against the government or anybody in the government. The resignation is only for personal reasons,’’ he said.
During meetings with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and other JD(S) leaders to convey his sudden decision on Thursday, the BSP MLA, however, indicated that he was leaving the government as per the bidding of his party leader, JDS sources said. “It seems that he did not want to quit but was asked to do so by Mayawati who wants to maintain a distance from the Congress,’’ the sources said. “The pressure to quit has been on for nearly a month is what we understand,” they said.
The BSP has been following a strategy of allying with regional parties and ignoring the Congress for alliances in states going to polls this year, dispelling notions of the creation of a grand alliance of opposition parties going into the 2019 general elections.
The first signs that Mahesh may not last long in the government emerged a week ago during a BSP programme held in Mysuru for preparing the party for the Lok Sabha polls when he stated that the three main political parties — the Congress, BJP and JD(S) — are all casteist parties. “The Congress, BJP and JD(S) have failed to bring equality in society and they will thrive as long as the caste system exists,” he said at the event.
Reacting to resignation of the BSP MLA from the government, the BJP said it was the beginning of the countdown to the fall of the coalition government in the state. “The BSP has also shown that it has no faith in this unholy alliance government,” BJP leader Arvind Limbavalli said.
The BSP won one seat in the May assembly polls while the JD(S) won 37 seats. The Congress-JD(S) alliance government came into being after the Congress offered the unconditional support of its 78 MLAs to the JD(S) in order to keep the BJP out of power.