Bengaluru, July 6 (IANS) Karnataka plunged into a major political crisis on Saturday as 11 MLAs from the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) combine quit, reducing the 13-month-old government to a minority in the 225-member state Assembly.
Of the 11 legislators who submitted their resignations in the Assembly Speaker’s office, 8 are from the Congress and 3 from the JD-S.
The major political development came at a time when Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and his two cabinet colleagues are away in the US and are scheduled to return on Sunday.
Before the resignations, the ruling coalition had 118 MLAs, five more than the required majority mark of 113.
They included 78 MLAs of the Congress (excluding the Speaker), 37 of the JD-S, one each from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and regional outfit Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party (KPJP) and an Independent.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 105 legislators.
The MLAs went to the Assembly secretariat to submit their resignations to the Speaker but he was not there and therefore they handed over their letters to his personal assistant.
A.H. Vishwanath, who resigned as JD-S MLA, told reporters after meeting the Governor that three more legislators would be resigning soon. He appeared before the media along with the other legislators who resigned.
“I came to know from my personal secretary that 11 legislators gave resignation letters in my office. They were acknowledged with receipts. I will go through them on Tuesday (July 9) as I am on leave on Monday,” Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar told reporters at his residence here.
The legislators then met Governor Vajubhai Vala in Raj Bhavan and apprised him of the reasons for their resignation.
In a communique later, the Governor’s office said the legislators had given a copy of their resignations to Vala as they could not give those to the Speaker personally.
Congress sources in New Delhi said the party’s state in-charge K.C. Venugopal, who is in Kerala presently, was rushing to Bengaluru to meet the rebel MLAs.
The eight Congress MLAs who resigned are Pratapgauda Patil (Maski), B.C. Patil (Hirekerur), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur) Mahesh Kumatahalli (Athani), Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout), S.T Somashekar (Yeshvantpur) and S.N. Subba Reddy (KGF in Kolar).
The three JD-S MLAs who quit are Vishwanath (Hunsur), N. Narayana Gowda (K.R. Pete) and Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmim).
Though Jarkiholi had sent his resignation on July 1, it was not accepted by the Speaker, as it was faxed to his office, which was against the procedure.
Congress legislator Anand Singh from Vijayanagara segment had also resigned on July 1. As he personally handed over his resignation letter to the Speaker, his office acknowledged receiving it.
Of the Congress legislators, Reddy, a seven-time lawmaker, was a Cabinet minister in the previous Siddaramaiah-led government.
Three more Congress legislators, including Reddy’s daughter Soumya (Jayanagar), Byarti Basavaraj (K.R. Puram) and Munirathna (R.R. Nagar) are also reportedly mulling to resign.
Vishwanath resigned as JD-S state unit President last month, owning responsibility for the party’s debacle in the recent Lok Sabha elections, in which it won only one seat, retaining Hassan, about 180 km northwest of Bengaluru.
“Two more Congress legislators — Munirathna and Basavaraj from Bengaluru — will resign by Monday,” Vishwanath told reporters outside the Raj Bhavan after meeting the Governor.
“If the Speaker accepts all the (14) resignations, the ruling alliance will be reduced to minority with 104 members and lose the floor test in the Assembly in a trial of strength,” BJP’s spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS here.
The 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature is set to begin on July 12 to approve the state budget for this fiscal (2019-20) and take up pending bills besides discussing various issues, including farm loan waiver, drought relief works and water crisis across the southern state.
Admitting that the year-old coalition government had failed to meet the people’s aspirations, Vishwanath alleged that there was no coordination between the ruling allies and they (legislators) were not taken into confidence by their leaders in the functioning of the government.
“The absence of coordination between the allies in governance is evident from the serious differences they have in power-sharing and day-to-day administration,” Vishwanath contended.
Insisting that each legislator had resigned on his own volition, Vishwanath said the fledgling government had failed the people who had huge expectations from it.
“Though the allies had contested together in the recent general elections under a pre-poll arrangement, fielding joint candidates in all the 28 Lok Sabha seats across the state, both had won only one seat each, retaining Bangalore Rural and Hassan,” Vishwanath said.
The BJP won 25 of the 27 Lok Sabha seats it contested and enabled an Independent (Sumalatha) wrest Mandya from the JD-S by supporting her.
Denying BJP’s role in their resignations, Vishwanath said the disgruntled MLAs of the Congress and the JD-S were acting on their own, out of dejection from the way the coalition government has been tottering over a year.
“We have nothing to do with the BJP. There is no poaching of MLAs or horse trading. We are all seniors in politics. We can’t be traded,” added Vishwanath.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders went into a huddle in New Delhi amid the political unceratinty in Karnataka.
Congress leaders Anand Sharma, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitendra Singh, party communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala and Deepender Hooda arrived at the party office in the national capital in the evening.
Speaking to reporters while going in, Surjewala said: “Will speak on Karnataka crisis after the meeting.”