The 13-month-old Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in Karnataka was on the brink of collapse after 13 legislators of the two parties submitted their resignations to the Speaker of the Assembly, and subsequently met the state Governor on Saturday.
With 105-seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the single largest party in the Karnataka Assembly, and can form the government if the effective strength of the 224-member Assembly were to reduce further. BJP state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa, however, denied his party was behind any “operation lotus” to engineer the resignations of the legislators.
After meeting the governor, JD(S) MLA H Vishwanath claimed 14 legislators, including Anand Singh of the Congress, have quit. He accused the coalition government led by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy of failing in its duty to serve the state. He also denied the BJP was behind the resignations.
In the recently held Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 25 of 28 seats in the state, and supported an Independent who won from the Mandya seat. The Congress and the JD(S) won a seat each.
Several Congress MLAs, particularly those supporting former chief minister Siddaramaiah, blame the ineffective governance provided by Kumaraswamy for the result.
While the rebellion could pave the way for the BJP to form the government, most Congress MLAs who have quit are close to former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah. Three of these MLAs have said they would take back their resignations if Siddaramaiah replaced Kumaraswamy as the chief minister. Siddaramaiah, who was earlier in the JD(S), was the chief minister from 2013 to 2018.
Congress crisis manager and senior state leader D K Shivakumar was making efforts to save the government while Kumaraswamy was trying to return from the US. Apart from Karnataka, the Congress has governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Punjab. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government is delicate.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, the BJP emerged the single largest party. The Congress with 69 seats and the JD (S) with 37 seats pipped the BJP in the race to form a government. It also had support of the lone Bahujan Samaj Party and two Independent legislators, totalling 118.
The Speaker told reporters, “Eleven of them have submitted resignation letters… on Tuesday I will go to the office and take further action in accordance with rules.” He said whether the government will fall or survive will be decided on the floor of the Assembly.
Siddaramaiah said the government in Karnataka would continue. BJP’s Yeddyurappa denied involvement and said his party would take an “appropriate decision at the appropriate time.”
Asked if the BJP would make any move to stake claim, Yeddyurappa said, “We will not do such things. We will wait and watch the developments that are unfolding. JD(S) senior and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda said the ball was in the Speaker’s court. Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal reached Bengaluru in the evening to resolve the crisis.