The Congress on Saturday claimed nothing would happen to its ruling coalition in Karnataka, even as the state government neared a collapse after the resignations of at least 11 MLAs. The party claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had orchestrated the resignations, an allegation that the Opposition party denied.
Earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said eight Congress MLAs and three Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs in Karnataka had submitted their resignations to his office. If he accepts their resignations, the coalition would be left with the support of 107 members – just enough to maintain a majority. However, AH Vishwanath, one of the JD(S) MLAs who resigned, claimed that there were 14 such legislators, though he included one Congress MLA who had already resigned on July 1.
“The new word for ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ [a reference to defections] is MODI – mischievously orchestrated defections in India,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters, according to PTI. “The Karnataka government, which is a joint government having complete majority under our democratic setup, is now being sought to be pulled down by a spate of defections and resignations.”
“The MLAs are being bought in broad daylight, democracy is being denigrated in broad daylight,” Surjewala said. “Constitution is being trampled upon in broad daylight in Karnataka. If those who swear by the Constitution of India are going to denigrate it, if those who swear by Constitution are going to trample over it, if those holding high office of prime minister and home minister are going to abdicate their duty towards the Constitution, there will be no democracy left in this country.”
He further said: “We deprecate the efforts of BJP to buy over legislators, to pressurise legislators into resigning in order to bring down an elected government in Karnataka.”
Congress leader and coalition coordination committee chief Siddaramaiah claimed that the government in Karnataka would continue. “Nothing will happen...[KC] Venugopal [Congress general secretary] will come [to Bengaluru]...nothing will happen, government will continue,” Siddaramaiah was quoted as saying by PTI. “How it [government] will be unstable? Resignation has to get accepted right? It has not been accepted yet.”
“Many of the MLAs who want to leave Congress have been associated with the party for a long time. I have faith that they will stay with us and support the party,” senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, according to ANI.
BJP denies role
The BJP, however, denied any role in the resignations of the lawmakers in the state. Karnataka BJP chief and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said his party would take “appropriate decision at the appropriate time”. “We will wait and watch the developments that are unfolding,” he said. The prevailing confusing situation has hampered the development of the state.”
BJP leader DV Sadananda Gowda said the party would form the government if the governor invites them to. “Governor is the supreme authority, as per the constitutional mandate if he calls us, certainly we are ready to form the government. We are the single largest party, we have got 105 people with us,” the leader was quoted as saying by ANI. He added that Yeddyurappa will be the chief ministerial candidate.
Gowda also denied BJP’s role in the resignations. “The media has shown the MLAs who went to meet Speaker,” he said. “No BJP leader or MLAs were behind them. They voluntarily went to the Speaker and submitted their resignation. So it shows there is no interference by the BJP at any point as far as resignations are concerned.”
Congress minister DK Shivakumar held talks with the MLAs who had resigned to convince them to stay.
JD(S) chief HD Devegowda said: “The ball is in the court of the Speaker...I’m also ready to see along with you what will happen next...”
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.
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.
The Congress and JD(S) formed a coalition in May 2018, but rumours of its imminent collapse have been doing the rounds for a while. 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.