Karnataka state government was in a momentous crisis after 13 ministers submitted their resignations to Assembly membership on Saturday, 6 July 2019. This included 10 Congress and 3 JD(S) MLA’s.
Two independents legislators, namely H Nagesh and R Shankar - who had been appointed MLA’s only a month ago - also resigned and came out in support of the BJP.
In an effort to salvage a Congress-JD(S) leadership, 30 ministers including all 21 of Congress and 9 of JD(S) quit the government, to pave the way for CM Kumaraswamy to reshuffle the cabinet by bringing back the rebel MLA’s. Congress leaders claim reshuffling will be done based on eligibility, social justice and regional balance.
All 15 rebel MLAs are being ferried to Goa from a plush Mumbai hotel where they have been closeted, sourced said. The MLAs are under threat of horse-trading, or party deflection.
Only 13 months ago, the Karnataka state assembly comprising 224 seats was formed under a post-election coalition, after the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance emerged as the victors after securing the halfway mark of 113, and securing a majority of 118 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the main opposition in the state government.
The results were:
- JD(S)-38 (including 1 from BSP)
All eyes are on the Speaker of the House, K.R. Ramesh Kumar, who also has a vote, and is yet to accept the resignations of the rebel MLAs. Kumar has stated he will consider the matter today, Tuesday, July 9, 2019.
On the surface, the ruling coalition is facing a numbers issue.
- Congress-JD(S) coalition’s total strength currently is 116:
- Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1
- 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 Congress-JD(S) coalition’s tally will be reduced to 103, thus losing the majority in the house.
- Speaker of the House vote has not been accounted for.
Below the surface, the ruling coalition is revealing fractures and factions:
- Ex-MLA Rohan Baig, who was suspended last month for “anti-party activities” tweeted, “I’m hurt by the way Congress has treated me and suspended me as I spoke the bitter truth. The state leadership has failed, there is no accountability. I am not going to either Mumbai or Goa, I am in Bengaluru. I am going to resign from MLA post. They (BJP) are in touch with me.”
- Baig also called Karnataka Congress leader Venugopal a “buffoon” and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundo Rao a “flop show”.
- Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar headed for Mumbai last week to meet with the rebel MLA’s, however, sources in Mumbai said the legislators were being accompanied by President of Mumbai BJP Yuva Morcha Mohit Bhartiya. JD(S) is also allegedly accommodating their legislators in resorts in Bengaluru.
Congress Leadership’s Optimistic Front
- CM Kumaraswamy said the situation is “unconstitutional, it is the work of the BJP high command. The government will survive.” He cut his trip to the US short to return home and deal with the situation.
- Congress leader Venugopal tweeted, “I sincerely thank the ministers for their decision and their attitude to sacrifice their ministership for uniting the party and defeating anti-democratic attitude of the BJP to destabilize the government”.
- “This is the sixth time the BJP has tried to destabilize the coalition government in the state. They are using money, power and central agencies to destabilize the government,” said Venugopal.
- Ex-CM Siddaramaiah tweeted, “All ministers from #JDS have submitted their resignations just like the 21 ministers from #Congress. Cabinet reshuffle will happen soon.”
- Protesting against the alleged horse-trading happening in Karnataka, Congress workers brought a horse outside the Mumbai hotel, transforming this soap-opera-esque drama into an Oscar-winning plotline.
Support for and from the BJP is pouring in during this time of uncertainty
- Former CM and Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa said that he is expecting more MLAs to quit, denied any role in the crisis, and said the MLAs were “fed up of the coalition government”.
- Independent rebel MLA Nagesh, who recently pledged his support to the BJP allegedly called Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar and said he had been “hijacked” by Mr. Yeddyurappa’s personal attendant and the BJP. By the time Shivakumar reached the airport, the flight had left.
- Union Minister Rajnath Singh issued a denial of Centre involvement, claiming, “our party does not put pressure on any other party’s lawmaker or legislator. It is Rahul Gandhi who started the resignation spree.”
- Tarini Ranadive
Image Source: Moneycontrol.in