Coalition faces collapse as Nagaraj heads to Mumbai

Coalition faces collapse as Nagaraj heads to Mumbai

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The Congress-JD(S) coalition hopes of saving the government suffered a huge setback on Sunday after legislator MTB Nagaraj suddenly flew to Mumbai, where a dozen disgruntled rebels are camping in a hotel.

An upbeat BJP, which is waiting in the wings to form its government, mounted pressure on Kumaraswamy to resign as he did not have the numbers to show his majority. 

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Kumaraswamy will have to go from 101 to 108 to surpass the BJP, whose tally currently stands at 107. This appears to be a herculean task given that the rebel MLAs stressed they were firm on their resignation. 

Nagaraj’s desertion came after the coalition leadership spent nearly 15 hours with him on Saturday, at the end of which he said he was ready to withdraw his resignation. But that was not to be. Nagaraj was seen boarding a Mumbai-bound chartered flight with senior BJP leader R Ashoka lurking around. 

“The BJP should admit that all they want is power, for which they’ve reduced the stature of the Legislative Assembly to that of a gram panchayat,” Congress leader DK Shivakumar said, accusing the saffron party of engineering the defection of the MLAs. 

Notwithstanding attacks from the coalition and the threat of disqualification, rebel legislator ST Somashekhar told reporters in Mumbai: “We are united and firm on our resignation. There was no external force or influence upon us (to resign).” Even Nagaraj, who joined the rebel camp, said there was no question of withdrawing his resignation. 

It is speculated that they will remain in Mumbai till Wednesday based on the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing on their resignations. 

Emboldened over the turn of events, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa said, “If Kumaraswamy has any respect for the chief minister's position, he should step down without any delay.”  

The coalition, however, continued to make efforts. A host of leaders visited 7-time Reddy’s house to convince him but it is learnt that Reddy did not give them any concrete assurance. 

“Reddy’s decision will have a bearing on another rebel R Roshan Baig, and then on ST Somashekhar, Byrati Basavaraj and Muniratna,” a Congress minister said.