Two more Congress MLAs quit as K’taka rebels move SC against Speaker | India News


BENGALURU: The Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka found itself on the brink of a collapse on Wednesday after suffering a series of reverses: rebels unwilling to back down and petitioning the Supreme Court against the speaker and two more Congress lawmakers bidding goodbye to the coalition.
With the latest exit, the coalition’s strength has nosedived from 118 to 100 in the 224-member legislative assembly in just five days. While 16 MLAs (13 from Congress and three from JD-S) have resigned from the assembly, two independents have withdrawn support to the HD Kumaraswamy government. If all 16 resignations are accepted by the speaker, the strength of the House will come down to 208, reducing the magic figure from 113 to 105. In such an event, the 105-member BJP can stake claim to form the government on its own.
Two Congress MLAs — state minister MTB Nagaraj and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) chairman K Sudhakar — delivered a fresh jolt to the government by resigning on a day when the party’s troubleshooter, DK Shivakumar, failed to meet the rebel MLAs lodged in a Mumbai hotel amid high drama. Mumbai police refused entry to Shivakumar and Deora at the hotel saying the MLAs had written to them that they felt “threatened” by Shivakumar. The Karnataka Congress leader then staged a seven-hour dharna along with Mumbai Congress leader Milind Deora at the hotel. Subsequently, they were taken away by police. Congress alleged Shivakumar was “forcibly” put on a plane to Karnataka.
In Bengaluru, Nagaraj and Sudhakar gave their handwritten resignation letters to speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. While Sudhakar was made chairman of KSPCB just a fortnight ago following reports that he would join BJP, Nagaraj was inducted into the ministry six months ago in the second round of the cabinet reshuffle soon after he raised a banner of revolt.
Sudhakar’s resignation sparked off unprecedented scenes in Vidhana Soudha, where he was held hostage by Congress leaders in minister KJ George’s office after he walked out of the speaker’s room. This led to a protest by BJP, whose members tried to storm Vidhana Soudha resulting in police commissioner Alok Kumar ordering a lockdown of the assembly. Governor Vajubhai R Vala intervened and directed police to bring Sudhakar to Raj Bhavan immediately.
On their part, Congress-JD(S) leaders are confident they can avert a crisis if the speaker delays accepting the resignation of MLAs and by invoking the anti-defection law. If the speaker decides to invoke the provisions of the law, the rebel legislators who are holed up in Mumbai would be barred from contesting elections for six years and from holding any other office under the law.
Sensing trouble, the rebel MLAs moved the SC against the speaker, alleging that he “was abandoning his constitutional duty and deliberately delaying acceptance of their resignations”. Their plea is expected to be taken up on Thursday.
Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda said BJP is ready to obey any constitutional directive by the governor, including a floor test. “Their (the coalition’s) number has come down to 100. We are 108. I think 51 is 100 and 49 is zero as far as democracy is concerned. Certainly, we are on the right track,” Gowda added.
Two independents who have withdrawn support to the coalition as well as the lone BSP MLA are expected to back BJP in its bid to form the government.
A BJP delegation led by state party president BS Yeddyurappa met the governor and urged him to dismiss the coalition government since it has lost majority in the House.
Meanwhile, a Mumbai BJP functionary claimed that eight Karnataka MLAs, whose resignations have not been accepted by the speaker because of improper format, have again sent their papers through email as well as speed post.

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