As the government in Karnataka faces an existential crisis with the resignation of 16 legislators of the ruling coalition, the state Cabinet that met on Thursday (July 11) resolved to face the situation “bravely” and “withstand” it unitedly.
Expressing confidence that the government would survive, the cabinet that met under the leadership of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that it was ready to face a no-confidence motion, if moved by the opposition BJP.
“Political developments were discussed. What was discussed and decided was that the government is in a crisis situation, there is no doubt about it. Various reasons for it and steps to solve it were discussed,” Rural development minister Krishna Byre Gowda said. Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting here, he claimed that this was the sixth or seventh attempt to destabilise the government.
“It can be called as continuous assault rather, by the BJP, using the central government. Till today we have withstood all their assaults. This time the situation is more serious than previous attempts. We concede that, but after considering all pros and cons, the Chief Minister, the deputy chief minister and the ministers have resolved to face it bravely and withstand it unitedly,” he added.
The resignation of 16 Congress-JD(S) MLAs has pushed the 13-month old coalition government to the brink of collapse. Stating that the cabinet has decided to continue efforts to pacify the MLAs who have left, Gowda said that it would make all possible efforts to save the government.
“All ministers shared their opinions to make a unified effort to save the government,” he said. Of the 16 MLAs who have resigned, 13 are from the Congress and three from the JD(S). The coalitions strength in the House is 116 [Congress 78, JD(S) 37, and BSP one], besides the speaker.
With the support of the two independents who resigned from the ministry on Monday (July 8), the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, whose halfway mark is 113. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalitions tally will be reduced to 100.
When asked if the government will seek a trust vote, he said, “If the need arises, we will do it, but now opposition is in urgency. So, if they have so much urgency let them move the no-confidence motion, we will face it.”
BJP has demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, saying his government has “lost majority.” State BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa has even petitioned the governor in this regard and sought his intervention. When asked if the governor would ask the government to prove majority, Gowda said, “Constitutionally, the governor has some powers, we will have to follow them, and we will abide his directions that are constitutional.”
On the future of the finance bill during the assembly session from Friday (July 12), he said, “Let’s see what happens. Opposition has certain privileges and rights to discuss it and seek vote and even press for division. We will not try to override on it. We will give them (opposition) all the opportunity… we are even ready for a vote on it,” he added.
When asked if the cabinet discussed the alleged interference by the governor in government affairs, Gowda said, “There are reports and we have ventilated those issues outside the government premises. We will continue to ventilate those issues, but it was not discussed in the cabinet.”
On reports that the Chief Secretary has been allegedly asked by the governor’s office to not take any major policy decisions, he said that he was not aware about it. If such a thing had happened, the chief secretary would have brought it to the cabinets notice, he said. “Lot of discussions took place in the cabinet… at no point did the chief secretary bring up the issue of such an advice, if it does exist,” he added.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah recently said that, though all ministers belonging to the Congress and JDS, barring the CM and deputy CM, tendered their resignations to their respective party chiefs to make way for the disgruntled MLAs, they have not been forwarded to the governor. He said that they technically continued to be ministers.