Resignation of 2 Ministers militates against Cong-JD(S) efforts to woo back rebels in new Cabinet
The Congress-Janata Dal(S) coalition Government in Karnataka plunged into a deeper crisis on Monday with two Ministers — H Nagesh and R Shankar, who are Independent MLAs — submitting their resignation to the State Governor. Thirteen other MLAs — 10 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) — have already put in their papers and are headed for Goa from Mumbai, where they were staying to ward off overtures from their respective parties.
As a last-ditch effort to save the Government, Ministers from both the Congress and the JD(S) on Monday resigned “voluntarily” to induct dissidents in the Cabinet. However, so far there is no indication that any of the rebel MLAs are ready to reconsider their stand.
The resignation of the two Ministers who were inducted into the Government last month to prevent them from going to the BJP camp has come as a major blow to the efforts of the crisis managers of the Congress and the JD(S).
If the 13 MLAs who resigned earlier stick to their stand, then along with these two Ministers, they will be bring the coalition Government in minority, paving the way for either imposition of President’s rule in the State or installation of a BJP-led Government.
The issue echoed in Parliament where the Government denied any role in the political turmoil even as Congress accused it of hatching a conspiracy.
The BJP has “nothing to do” with whatever development is taking place in Karnataka and “we never pressurise and engineer defections”, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha as Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the BJP of “buying MLAs” in Karnataka.
The Defence Minister said the Government is committed to protect the dignity of Parliamentary democracy. “Whatever is happening currently in Karnataka, we have no relation with that,” he said.
Chowdhury alleged the BJP-ruled Government is hatching a conspiracy to break the Congress-led Government in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. “This Government is secretly hatching a conspiracy against the State Government. They took our MLAs to a five star hotel in Mumbai,” Chowdhury said.
With Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Government appearing on the brink of collapse, the BJP on Monday demanded his immediate resignation.
“If at all he has dignity, honour and self-esteem or if he is aware of Karnataka’s culture and traditions, he should immediately resign… Do not try to stick on to the chair. You do not have the numbers,” former Deputy CM R Ashok said.
The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength after Nagesh and Shankar withdrawing their support is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker.
With the support of two Independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s tally will be reduced to 104.
On a hectic day of political activities, the Congress took the lead to save the Government, holding the meeting at the residence of Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, which was attended by senior leaders, including AICC general secretary KC Venugopal.
At the end of the meeting, the party said all its 21 Ministers resigned voluntarily to enable a reshuffle of the Cabinet and make way for the disgruntled legislators. The JD(S) followed suit with nine of its Ministers resigning after Kumaraswamy met the Congress leaders.
“For the larger interest of the party, yesterday and today, we had detailed discussions with senior leaders and Ministers,” Venugopal told reporters.
The meeting was attended by Congress Legislature Party Leader Siddaramaiah among others. Siddaramaiah too said all Congress Ministers have voluntarily resigned and have given “full freedom” to the party to reshuffle the Ministry. “All ministers from #JDS have submitted their resignations just like the 21 Ministers from #Congress. Cabinet reshuffle will happen soon, the CM Office said in a tweet.
Under the coalition arrangement, out of the total 34 ministerial positions, the Congress and the JD(S) have shared 22 and 12 berths respectively.
Prior to the eventual resignation of Shankar, who recently became a Minister under Congress quota, Siddaramiah said he too offered to quit, but they had not taken it.
Congress had filled in all its berths while there are two vacancies under JD(S) share after Nagesh’s resignation on Monday as he was made Minister under the regional party’s quota.
Siddaramaiah said the reshuffle will be done based on eligibility, social justice and regional balance.
In a message to the disgruntled MLAs, he said, “I want to tell them don’t fall prey to BJPs allurements, we will listen to you and sort out your issues, don’t take hasty decision. This is my request to them on behalf of the party,” he said, adding efforts were on to pacify them.
He said the Cabinet reshuffle will happen as soon as possible after discussion with party high-command.
Responding to the political developments, Kumaraswamy asserted he had “no fear” about the happenings and was concentrating on fulfilling his responsibilities.
“I have no fear about the political developments, I will not discuss about the political developments… I have nothing do with what BJP people are doing and what others are doing,” he said.
Tuesday, 09 July 2019 | PNS | Bengaluru
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