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Karnataka coalition still in deep crisis, 2 more MLAs resign

Bengaluru | As Karnataka Congress-JD(S) falls on the brink of collapse, all the ministers resigned to give space for the accommodation of a cabinet reshuffle, and 2 more independent MLAs resigned.

There was no immediate word from the rebel camp on the move to reshuffle the Cabinet in a bid to save the wobbly 13-month-old government, 10 of the Congress and 3 of the JD(S)– submitted their resignations to the Assembly Speaker’s office on Saturday triggering a fresh political crisis.

Of the 13 MLAs, 10–seven of them from the Congress–were holed up in a luxury hotel in Mumbai since Saturday and were joined by H Nagesh, one of the two Independent MLAs and a minister who quit, on Monday.

Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and top coalition leaders made last efforts to save the falling government and made all the ministers of Congress, as well as JD(S), to give the rebel MLAs ministerial berths.

However, it did not seem to have worked because reiterating their commitment to quit the coalition.

The two Independent MLAs–H Nagesh and R Shankar–who were made ministers less than a month ago in a bid to give stability to the government resigned and extended support to the BJP, as resort politics returned to haunt the crisis-hit coalition.

Amid an allegation by Congress leader D K Shivakumar that the BJP ‘hijacked’ Nagesh, all eyes were on Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who is expected to examine on Tuesday the resignations by the 13 MLAs submitted to him on Saturday that triggered the latest political crisis in the state. The MLAs claimed they felt sidelined and wanted to back the BJP.

The ruling coalition faces the threat of losing its majority if the resignations of the 13 rebel MLAs are accepted.

The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength after Nagesh and Shankar withdrew support is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1) besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s tally will be reduced to 103. The Speaker also has a vote.

Late in the evening, Congress MLA R Roshan Baig, who is currently facing charges in a Ponzi scheme, said he would skip the Congress Legislature Party meeting on Tuesday and resign as MLA. “I will do so at a convenient time,” he said.

The political turmoil in the state also echoed in Parliament, with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary accusing BJP of trying to destabilise the government. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh responded to this and claimed that their party had nothing to do with the ongoing crisis.

Kumaraswamy, who returned from his 10-day long US trip Sunday, put up a brave face, saying he was not afraid of the developments.

“The government will survive,” he said, alleging that the current situation is the work of the BJP high command.

Kumaraswamy told reporters he had “no fear” about the happenings and was concentrating on fulfilling his responsibilities.

He evaded a direct answer to a question about the resignation of the 13 MLAs and merely said, “Let’s see”.

While the BJP has consistently called for the resignation of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy.

“The CM should have resigned by now. The independent MLAs have expressed their support for us and so our number is 107 and the coalition is at 104,” said senior leader Arvind Limbavali.

(With PTI inputs)

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