Setback to coalition govt as two Cong MLAs resign

Political drama

In a double whammy to the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition, two disgruntled Congress legislators tendered their resignation as MLAs on Monday amid speculation that the BJP had renewed its effort to topple the Congress-JD(S) government by poaching MLAs.

Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh and Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi sent their resignation letters to Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, who is yet to accept them. Once accepted, the strength of the Congress-JD(S) combine will be down to 117. The BJP has 105 MLAs. At least 15 MLAs should resign for the BJP to be able to form its government. 

The resignations, which come ahead of the monsoon session of the legislature scheduled to start on July 12, sent the Congress-JD(S) leadership into a tizzy amid speculation that other disgruntled MLAs could follow suit. 

Top Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar huddled to discuss the situation. Kumaraswamy had one eye on the developments all the way from New Jersey. 

Both Singh and Ramesh are said to be in touch with the BJP. Apparently, the BJP is banking on resignations one after another, instead of any ‘en masse’ action that would make poaching obvious. BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said his party had nothing to do with the developments. “There’s no strategy on our side. If the government collapses because MLAs resign, we will decide on what to do next. Obviously, we will form the government if there is an opportunity,” he said. 

Singh said he had many reasons to resign, including his unmet demands of annulling the decision to sell 3,667 acres land to JSW Steel in Ballari and making Vijayanagar a separate district.

“Let me wait for the response I get from the government,” he said, when asked if he would withdraw his resignation if his demands were met.  

Ramesh, a Valmiki leader who wields significant clout in Belagavi district, is known to have been disgruntled even before he was dropped from the Cabinet last year.

Ramesh has sulked over the way the Congress leadership handled his turf war with Belgaum Rural MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar and D K Shivakumar. In February this year, the Congress had moved a petition seeking his disqualification under the anti-defection law, which is pending with Speaker Kumar. 

“There’s no threat to the government,” Rao said. “This government will complete its term. The BJP is just trying to create confusion. We have the majority.

And if it comes to that, we are also capable to doing things we have not done till now,” he said, referring to reverse poaching of BJP MLAs.

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