HDK govt now a minority, coalition vacates Cabinet

(DH File Photo/S K Dinesh)

The Congress-JD(S) coalition was reduced to a minority on Monday as two Independent legislators switched loyalties, giving a shot in the arm to the BJP that has demanded Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s resignation. 

Small Scale Industries Minister H Nagesh and Municipal Administration Minister R Shankar, who were inducted into the Cabinet just last month, resigned from the Cabinet and withdrew their support to the ruling coalition. They have decided to support the BJP if it forms the government. After resigning, they flew to Mumbai to join 10 rebel legislators camping there. The rebels and the Independents later left for Goa.

With the two Independents pulling the plug and 13 MLAs having tendered their resignation, the strength of the Congress-JD(S) coalition has slipped from 119 to 104. The BJP’s tally has gone up from 105 to 107. Nagesh and Shankar had withdrawn their support earlier this year. Kumaraswamy inducted them into the Cabinet expressly to shore up his numbers. 

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Desperate move

And with the going getting tougher for the coalition, the Congress and the JD(S) got all their ministers to resign in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save the government by luring rebel legislators back by offering them Cabinet positions.

The 34-member Cabinet headed by Kumaraswamy now has 33 vacant positions — 22 of the Congress and 11 of the JD(S) — that will be dangled before the rebels to bring them back. The Cabinet will be reshuffled soon, Kumaraswamy said. 

The Chief Minister declined to comment on the uncertainty his government faced.

“What the BJP or someone else does is not my concern. I am focused on my responsibility towards the state. My attention is not on the political developments,” he said. 

The Congress obtained the resignation of its ministers at a breakfast meeting hosted by Parameshwara.

“In the prevailing condition, Congress ministers have resigned voluntarily and have entrusted the party to take necessary decisions. We believe in our MLAs. Those who have resigned should come back and strengthen their party. We are confident this government will continue,” AICC General Secretary in charge of Karnataka K C Venugopal said. 

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, in a final call, appealed to the rebels to reconsider their decision to resign. “The party now has full freedom to reconstitute the government. Those ministerial aspirants who have resigned, we are ready for talks. Don’t make hasty decisions. We will accommodate those who are eligible (to become ministers) and those who are unhappy,” he said.

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