As the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka teetered on the brink of collapse, all the ministers quit Monday to give a free hand to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to reshuffle his Cabinet to include rebel MLAs while two Independent legislators also withdrew their support.
There was no immediate word from the rebel camp on the move to reshuffle the Cabinet in a bid to save the wobbly 13-month-old government, as the action shifted to Goa from Mumbai after 13 dissident MLAs — 10 of the Congress and 3 of the JD(S) — submitted their resignations to the Assembly Speaker’s office on Saturday triggering a fresh political crisis.
Of the 13 MLAs, 10 — seven of them from the Congress — were holed up in a luxury hotel in Mumbai since Saturday and were joined by H Nagesh, one of the two Independent MLAs and a minister who quit, on Monday. All the legislators were headed to Goa by road.
Sources in Mumbai said the legislators were being accompanied by Mohit Bhartiya, president of the Mumbai BJP Yuva Morcha. According to JD(S) sources in Bengaluru, the party MLAs were being taken to a resort on the outskirts of the city.
The two Independent MLAs–H Nagesh and R Shankar–who were made ministers less than a month ago in a bid to give stability to the government resigned and extended support to the BJP, as resort politics returned to haunt the crisis-hit coalition.
Amid an allegation by Congress leader D K Shivakumar that the BJP ‘hijacked’ Nagesh, all eyes were on Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who is expected to examine on Tuesday the resignations by the 13 MLAs submitted to him on Saturday that triggered the latest political crisis in the state.
The ruling coalition faces the threat of losing its majority if the resignations of the 13 rebel MLAs are accepted. The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength after Nagesh and Shankar withdrew support is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1) besides the Speaker.
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 coalition’s tally will be reduced to 103. The Speaker also has a vote.
Fighting hard to save one of its few state governments, Congress took the lead holding the meeting at the residence of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, which was attended by senior leaders, including AICC general secretary K C Venugopal.