Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said in Parliament that the Bharatiya Janata Party had nothing to do with the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition crisis in Karnataka. The government is on the verge of collapse after the resignations of 14 Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs and with one independent MLA having withdrawn support. Following the resignations, all ministers, both Congress and JD(S), quit to pave way for a new state Cabinet.

Rajnath Singh instead blamed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the situation in Karnataka and claimed that Gandhi was the one responsible for the resignation sprees. Singh was referring to the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president after taking responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, and his remarks that numerous people would have to be made accountable for the loss.

“Whatever is happening in Karnataka, our party has nothing to do with it,” ANI quoted Singh as saying in the Lok Sabha. “Our party is fully committed to the dignity of parliamentary democracy.”

Singh, who is also the Deputy Leader of the House, was responding to Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury who claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had orchestrated the resignations to destabilise the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition. Chowdhury had called the BJP a “poacher” party and asserted that they will overcome this crisis.

“This government is secretly hatching a conspiracy against the state government. They took our MLAs to a five star hotel in Mumbai,” Chowdhury was quoted as saying by PTI.

He accused the government of betraying democracy. “You have won 303 seats [in Lok Sabha] but still your stomach is not full. Your stomach and Delhi Gate now look similar”.

Rajya Sabha member of the BJP Rajeev Chandrasekhar responded to allegations from the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition that he flew rebel lawmakers to Mumbai by a chartered flight. He said that the aircraft was a commercial charter that had been used by Congress Ministers in the past.

“So don’t blame me or an ‘aircraft’ or BJP for the problems in your crooked corrupt opportunistic alliance,” the BJP MP said on Twitter.

Senior Congress leader G Parameshwara accused Chandrasekhar of arranging the aircraft for the rebel party MLAs. “Traces of BJP’s role in destabilizing the government are all over the place,” he said in a tweet. “It is disgraceful that the party is attempting to topple a democratically elected government and grab power through the back door when the state is reeling under one of the worst droughts.” Reports said that the chartered plane belongs to Jupiter Capital Private Limited, of which Rajeev Chandrasekhar is founder and chairman.

BJP leader Ram Madhav also rejected allegations of his party’s role in engineering the defections and said it is ridiculous to blame BJP. “Everybody knows whatever is happening in Karnataka is because of the ambitions of certain leaders of their own parties,” he told PTI. “It is they who are engineering dissent within their party. It is they who are actually running the coalition, which was [anyway] against the mandate of the people. They came together and tried to run it and today they are fighting among themselves.”

Meanwhile, Congress leader Siddaramaiah said that all the Congress the ministers had voluntarily resigned to help save the government. “We will try to accommodate those MLAs who have resigned & interested to be the ministers,” he said in a tweet. “We will reshuffle the cabinet keeping regional aspirations & social obligations in mind.” He also requested all the rebel MLAs to reconsider their decision and “strengthen our government”.

Some of the Congress MPs had attended the Lok Sabha with “Save Democracy” posters.

Two senior Karnataka Congress leaders – DK Shivakumar and KC Venugopal – also expressed confidence that the “small issues” in the coalition will be effectively sorted.

The crisis

The trouble in Karnataka’s Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government began early in July as legislators began to resign, and escalated on July 6 when upto 14 legislators from both the parties submitted their resignations to Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.

The coalition has 119 members in the 224-member Assembly, including the 14 rebel MLAs and the speaker. If their resignations are accepted, the alliance’s strength will drop to 104 and the Assembly’s strength will be 210. The BJP is the single largest party in the Assembly, with 105 MLAs.

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Explainer: Will the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka fall?