Following the resignation of its two MLAs, the disarrayed Congress party in Karnataka is in damage-control mode to keep its flock together. The resignations have brought back the number game as former chief minister Siddaramaiah called for an urgent legislative party meeting to address the concerns of the rebel MLAs.
Congress sources said the party will convince the MLAs, Anand Singh from Vijaynagar and Ramesh Jarkiholi from Gokak, to withdraw their resignations, which is yet to be accepted by the Speaker.
With the suspension of another MLA Roshan Baig, the loss of a seat in bypolls, the resignations of the two legislators has brought down the coalition numbers to 117, including the speaker.
If the resignations are accepted, the alliance partners will have just four seats above the majority mark in the 224-seat Assembly. The coalition will have to stop further more MLAs from causing instability to the government.
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said Singh’s resignation reflected large-scale uneasiness in the Congress-JD(S) government and the party was willing to explore constitutional provisions to form the new government.
BJP which has 105 seats in the state Assembly was hoping to gain strength and form the government. For that, it will need at least 14 more MLAs to resign so that the strength of the House is brought down to 208.
Alternatively, BJP has also been contemplating moving a no-confidence motion and bank on cross voting to bring down the government.
“There is no threat to the government. It is unlikely that more than two dozen MLAs will quit. BJP was only day-dreaming and their ‘Operation Kamala’ might not succeed this time,” UT Khader, Minister for Urban Development, said.
Caught in a similar situation, the BJP government led by Yeddyurappa resorted to an anti-democratic move in 2010. The Speaker disqualified 16 MLAs (11 BJP and 5 independents supporting the party) under the provisions of the anti-defection law and brought down the strength of the House to ensure smooth sailing during the trust vote.
Although the Karnataka High Court upheld the disqualification, the Supreme Court overruled it and termed it illegal.
The Congress’s state unit tweeted saying, it’s silence should not be taken as a sign of weakness. “The party will not hesitate to give back to defend a stable government.”
Commenting on the development, Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao had said BJP’s aim to create confusion and destabilise the alliance government will not sustain and the Congress did not want to play low-level politics.