Coalition scramble to save govt, rebels refuse to budge

Cong, JD(S) scramble to save govt, rebels refuse to budge

DK Shivakumar with Deve Gowda, PWD Minister HD Revanna and other leaders at Gowda's residence in Bengaluru on Sunday.

With the 13-month-old coalition on the verge of collapse, Congress and JD(S) leaders on Sunday made last-ditch efforts to save the government.

As of now, two options are on the table: an immediate Cabinet reshuffle and a change of guard.

As many as 13 coalition MLAs – 10 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) – resigned on Saturday, dealing a severe blow to the H D Kumaraswamy government. The rebel MLAs are said to be in touch with BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa, who is keen on installing his government. However, Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar will look into the resignation letters on Tuesday.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who arrived in Bengaluru after his week-long US tour, huddled with his father and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and senior Congress leaders to chalk out a strategy.

To wriggle out of the crisis, leaders of the coalition are planning to reshuffle the Cabinet immediately to accommodate the rebels. For this, efforts are being made to pacify the rebel MLAs, who are camping in Mumbai.

But sources in the coalition said the chances of rebel MLAs taking back their resignations were slim. Senior leader Ramalinga Reddy, the latest to enter the league of rebels, is learnt to have rejected AICC general secretary incharge of Karnataka K C Venugopal’s offer to induct him in the Cabinet with a plum portfolio. Still, Congress leaders are said to be hopeful. 

Change of guard

The coalition leaders, sources said, are also toying with the idea of a change of guard as the second option. Gowda is said to have already indicated that his party will extend support if Mallikarjuna Kharge is made the CM.

Kharge attending a series of meetings on Sunday to discuss strategies added credence to the speculation. The Congress leader had hitherto remained away from state politics. However, Kharge said he was not in the race to become the CM.

Venogopal held a series of meetings with senior leaders through the day and discussed ways to pacify the MLAs in Mumbai.

“We (Congress) are trying to pacify those who have resigned. The JD(S) is also trying. We hope to resolve everything soon,” Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah told reporters after meeting Venugopal.

Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah has convened CLP meeting on Tuesday to discuss the political situation. The state legislative session is scheduled to begin from July 12.

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