Karnataka crisis: Congress starts back channel talks with rebels

File photo of H D Kumaraswamy

Bengaluru: As the political imbroglio continued in Karnataka, senior Congress leaders today began back channel negotiations to persuade the disgruntled MLAs, who have resigned from the Assembly, dealing a blow to the coalition government, to stay on.

A day after Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy made a surprise announcement in the Assembly that he would seek a trust vote, efforts were intensified to reach out to the dissident legislators.

Congress’ troubleshooter and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar reached the residence of Housing Minister M T B Nagaraj around 5 am and camped there for almost four-and-a-half hours, trying to pacify him.

According to reports, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara also reached Nagaraj’s house to convince him to withdraw his resignation.

Vidhana Soudha

Nagaraj had resigned from the MLA post Wednesday. A similar attempt was on to persuade MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna and R Roshan Baig.

Sources in the JD(S) said Kumaraswamy was in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators, who have resigned, and was hopeful that they would withdraw their resignation.

In a bid to keep the flock together ahead of the floor test likely during the coming week, the Congress and BJP shifted their MLAs to hotels and resorts.

Kumaraswamy made the announcement about trust vote on the floor of the Assembly after the Supreme Court Friday ordered the Speaker to maintain status quo on the resignations of 10 rebel MLAs belonging to the Congress-JD(S) coalition, till 16 July.

The coalition government, shaky since it came into being last year after a post-poll arrangement in the wake of a hung verdict, is facing a serious crisis now with 16 MLAs — 13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) — resigning from the Assembly.

Besides, two Independent legislators, who were made ministers recently to provide stability to the government, have quit the ministry and withdrawn their support to it. The ruling coalition’s total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two Independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s tally will be reduced to 100. The Speaker, too, has a vote.

Yeddyurappa

NO USE, SAYS BJP

Commenting on the developments, BJP State president B S Yeddyurappa said these efforts would not yield any result as the fall of the government was “imminent”.

“There’s confusion in Congress and JD(S) due to which the MLAs are fleeing the parties. A systematic conspiracy is going on to bring the MLAs back,” Yeddyurappa told reporters.

“The atmosphere is chaotic and the fall of the government is imminent,” the State BJP chief said.

Claiming that the State government had lost its majority, he said seeking the vote of confidence was “meaningless”.