At least 11 MLAs of the ruling coalition in Karnataka submitted their resignations to the office of Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Saturday, PTI reported. If the resignations of the eight Congress MLAs and three Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs are accepted, the coalition would be left with the support of 107 members – just enough to maintain a majority. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 105 MLAs.
The number 11 was given by Speaker Ramesh Kumar on Saturday afternoon. However, AH Vishwanath, one of the JD(S) MLAs who submitted their resignations, later claimed that the number was 14 – but he included one Congress MLA who had already resigned on July 1. This had not been confirmed by the Speaker’s office by Saturday night.
Ramesh Kumar said he had asked his office to take the resignations for the time being. “Tomorrow [Sunday] the office will be closed...Monday I have prior engagement, so on Tuesday I will go to office and take further action, in accordance with rules,” he told reporters.
The eight Congress legislators who were seen at the Speaker’s office were Ramesh Jarkiholi, Pratap Gowda Patil, Shivram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, BC Patil, Byrathi Basavaraj, ST Somashekar and Ramalinga Reddy, PTI reported. The JD(S) MLAs were AH Vishwanath, Narayana Gowda and Gopalaiah. They also went to the Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Vajubhai Vala.
Ramalinga Reddy, a seven-time Congress MLA, was the home minister in the previous government led by the party. His daughter Sowmya Reddy is also a Congress MLA, though he said he was not aware whether she would also resign.
Ramesh Jarkiholi had submitted his resignation earlier this week too, but it was not accepted as he reportedly sent it by fax.
Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and minister DK Shivakumar held an emergency meeting with the MLAs who were resigning, according to ANI. Earlier in the day, Shivakumar said nothing would happen and the government would survive. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is abroad and will reportedly return on Sunday.
BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa claimed that Shivakumar tore resignation letters of some of the MLAs inside the Speaker’s office. Shivakumar later said: “Why should I not [tear the resignation letters]? Let them file a complaint. If they want to put me behind the bars, I’m ready. I have taken a very big risk.”
Yeddyurappa said he or his party had nothing to do with the resignations, ANI reported.
Karnataka elects members for 224 Assembly seats. Congress MLA Anand Singh resigned on July 1. If the Speaker accepts 11 more resignations, the strength will come down to 212 and the majority mark to 107. The Congress will be reduced to 70 MLAs and the JD(S) to 34. With the support of one Bahujan Samaj Party MLA and two independent members, the ruling coalition would then have just two members more than the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Despite being the single-largest party with 105 members, the BJP had been unable to form the government in May 2018 after the Congress and the JD(S) stitched a post-poll alliance.
In the past year, leaders from both the Congress and JD(S) have expressed their dissatisfaction at the way the coalition has functioned. In the Lok Sabha elections in April, the coalition won just two out of 28 seats in the state, while the BJP and an independent candidate it had supported won the rest.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader DV Sadananda Gowda told ANI that if the governor invites the party to form government, they are ready to do so as the single-largest party and BS Yeddyurappa will be the chief minister.
On the resignations, Gowda said: “They thought it’s high time to come out of that party and resigned as they felt that continuing as MLAs was not good in the larger interest of their constituency and state.”