Even as the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) leadership try desperately to retrieve the tottering coalition government from the brink, the crisis deepened further with two more MLAs submitting their resignations to the Speaker in Bengaluru today (Wednesday, July 10).
Both MLAs – MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar – are considered to be loyalists of former chief minister Siddaramaiah and found places in the coalition government of the Congress-JDS following the intervention of the senior leader.
The development came on a day when Congress trouble-shooter DK Shivakumar was detained by Mumbai police when he had gone to Mumbai to meet 10 rebel legislators who had resigned earlier and were lodged in a hotel. The MLAs had told the police that their leaders might come to the hotel to threaten them.
Separately, they also moved the Supreme Court against dealy in accepting their resignation by the Karnataka Assembly Speaker.
The resignations of two more Congress MLAs Nagaraj and Sudhakar was followed by a high drama in the third floor of State Secretariat, said media reports. Soon after the MLAs submitted their resignations to the Speaker, some Congress leaders took away Sudhakar into Minister KJ George’s room in an apparent effort to woo him back into the party fold.
Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge and KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao were among those who closeted with him. Soon after, former chief minister Siddaramaiah too entered the scene. Nagaraj had left the place by then.
The BJP protested the “manhandling of an MLA” in the corridors of power, without referring to Sudhakar’s name. Speaking to mediapersons, BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa called it “goondaism.”
Nagaraj was reported to have said earlier today that MLAs were quitting the coalition due to the frequent interference in their constituencies and ministries by Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and his brother H D Revanna.
The second MLA Sudhakar was part of a rebel Congress group that was lured by the BJP in January ahead of an assembly session. He returned to the Congress fold after the BJP aborted its plans to get a large number of MLAs to defect following the release of an audio recording by Kumaraswamy of conversations of BJP leaders negotiating with an MLA’s son.
Sudhakar’s appointment as the chairman of the state pollution board was initially opposed by Chief Minister Kumaraswamy but was accommodated last month as part of a Congress-JDS truce to keep the coalition intact.
The resignation of the two Congress MLAs takes the total of coalition MLAs who have resigned to 16. The Speaker of the state assembly rejected the resignation of nine MLAs on Tuesday for technical errors in the format of the letter given to the Speaker.
A total of 13 Congress MLAs and three JDS MLAs are among those who have given their resignations. If the resignations are accepted by the Speaker the strength of the coalition will fall to 101 compared to the BJP’s 105 plus two Independents.