Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy arrived at Bengaluru airport on Sunday evening following his trip to the United States even as his coalition government teetered on the verge of collapse. Kumaraswamy was scheduled to head a legislature party meeting of the Janata Dal (Secular), The Indian Express reported.
The Janata Dal (Secular) shifted its meeting to the Taj West End Hotel in Bengaluru even as the crisis brewed, TV9 reported. The Congress, meanwhile, issued an order to all its MLAs to attend the legislature party meeting on July 9, ANI reported. The party warned that strict action would be taken against MLAs who refuse to attend the meeting.
This came a day after 11 MLAs of the ruling alliance resigned, plunging the state into a political crisis. Two legislators had resigned earlier. However, all the resignations have not been accepted by Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. Ten of the MLAs are holed up in a hotel in Mumbai.
On Sunday, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders held a series of meetings in Bengaluru. All India Congress Committee General Secretary KC Venugopal met Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Devegowda, PTI reported. Congress leader Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, minister DK Shivakumar and All India Congress Committee Working President Eshwar Khandre attended the meetings.
“I hope that everything will be resolved soon and am ready for any sacrifices to save the government and party,” Shivakumar said.
Janata Dal (Secular) leader GT Devegowda said the party has no objection if the coordination committee decides that Siddaramaiah should be the chief minister, ANI reported. “Congress is making efforts to save the government,” he added. “They have told the members that some seniors should resign from the Cabinet and make way for others.”
GT Devegowda added that a rebel MLA, H Vishwanath, had told him that he would return to the party. “If my party decides, I am ready to resign,” said GT Devegowda. “I am not going to BJP. Ours is a coalition government for the betterment of state.”
Siddaramaiah appealed to Congress leaders and workers not to speak against the coalition government, chief minister and HD Devegowda. “We have to be aware that the Opposition is ready to take advantage of any differences amongst us,” he added.
His statement came even as Congress workers protested against the rebel MLAs outside Sophitel Hotel in Mumbai, TV9 reported. Siddaramaiah said he was in contact with at least six rebel MLAs. “Everybody is loyal to the party,” he said. “It is not a question of a person being loyal to me. Everybody is expected to be loyal to the party.”
However, Congress MLA ST Somashekar said there was no question of taking back the resignations, ANI reported. “We 13 MLAs submitted resignation to the speaker and informed governor,” ANI quoted him as saying in Mumbai. “We all are together. No question of going back to Bengaluru and withdrawing the resignations.”
Meanwhile, the aircraft that took 10 dissident MLAs to Mumbai belonged to a company associated with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, PTI quoted unidentified officials as saying. “It is a charter operation and the aircraft is chartered regularly by various people,” a top official of Jupiter Capital Pvt Ltd told the agency.
BJP denies its alleged role in the turmoil
Earlier in the day, the Congress accused the BJP of hatching a conspiracy to topple the government. The saffron party, however, refuted the charges.
Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa claimed his party was not involved in the resignations. He said the MLAs who resigned on Saturday may have gone to Mumbai for their safety. He denied that BJP legislators or leaders were present in Mumbai along with the rebel MLAs. “According to me they made their own arrangements and went to Bombay for their own safety,” Yeddyurappa added.
“Let’s wait and watch,” he said when asked if the BJP would be ready to form the government. “Are we hermits? After the resignation process is over and the speaker takes his decision, leaders of our party will discuss and decide.”
Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy also claimed the BJP had nothing to do with the crisis, PTI reported. “Such allegations were made against the BJP even earlier but we have nothing to do with the resignation of MLAs in Karnataka,” he said. “In fact, they have been trying to quit for a long time now. The Congress is in such a pathetic shape now that it doesn’t even have a president.”
Union minister and BJP leader Pralhad Joshi said the Congress was trying to push away HD Kumaraswamy. “It is Congress party’s game plan to out HD Devegowda and his family,” Joshi added. He claimed there was “complete anarchy” in the Congress and its Karnataka unit was “functioning like an independent entity as central leadership has no say in the state unit”.
“The current political crisis is actually an outcome of power struggle between Siddaramaiah and Kumaraswamy,” G Kishan Reddy alleged.