Karnataka crisis: BJP wants trust vote on Monday

Bengaluru: Leaders of crisis-hit Cong-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka were locked in hectic parleys on Saturday to pacify rebel MLAs as five more legislators moved the Supreme Court against the Speaker not accepting their resignation.

The BJP too upped the ante demanding that Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy seek a trust vote on Monday, a day prior to the Supreme Court hearing on a similar petition of 10 other rebel MLAs of Congress-JD (S) who have resigned.

After almost day-long negotiations in which Congress’ “troubleshooter” and minister D K Shivakumar, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, CLP leader Siddaramaiah as well as Kumaraswamy were involved, it appeared that Congress had made some headway in pacifying one of its MLAs, M T B Nagaraj, who hinted that he might consider withdrawing his resignation, but there was no formal announcement till late evening.

With Kumaraswamy throwing down the gauntlet by announcing in the Assembly that he would seek a trust vote, state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa said he should do it on Monday itself. As the crisis that threatens the survival of the 13-month-old government stretched into the eighth day, five more rebel Congress MLAs, including Nagaraj, moved the Supreme Court against the Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar not accepting their resignation.

MLAs Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, Nagaraj, Munirathna and Roshan Baig have sought impleadment in the already pending application filed by the 10 other rebels MLAs on which the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. The Supreme Court had on Friday restrained the Speaker from taking any decision till Tuesday on the resignation and disqualification of these 10 MLAs.

The coalition government is on a shaky wicket with 16 MLAs — 13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) — resigning their assembly membership. Besides, two independent legislators have quit the ministry and withdrawn support. The independents, H Nagesh and R Shankar, have written to the Speaker requesting him to allot them seats on the opposition side in the House. As part of efforts to reach out to dissident MLAs, Shivakumar reached Nagaraj’s residence early Saturday morning and camped there for almost half-a-day, trying to pacify the Hoskote MLA.

Subsequently, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara among other leaders too reached Nagaraj’s house to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. Nagaraj, who tendered his resignation on July 10, however, kept the Congress leaders on tenterhooks even after day-long deliberations. Earlier in the day, flanked by Congress leaders, he had hinted that he might consider withdrawing his resignation and also said he would try to persuade others.

Siddaramaiah (CLP leader) and Dinesh Gundu Rao (KPCC chief) called me and requested me to withdraw the resignation and stay in the party. “I have sought time to mull over it. I told them I will speak to Chikkaballapura MLA Sudhakar and persuade him to withdraw his resignation. We are planning to stay here only,” Nagaraj told reporters. Asked if all the differences were sorted out, Nagaraj said he had resigned due to certain “discontentment” and that there was disagreement in every political party.

“The party high-command is trying to persuade the MLAs. I will also try my best to help them in their efforts,” he added before leaving for Siddaramaiah’s residence with some party leaders. On coming out from Siddaramaiahs house, Nagaraj said, “Negotiations are going on. He (Siddaramaiah) has spoken good things.” Asked whether he has changed his mind, he said, “We all are trying for it only.”

Later, Nagaraj returned to Siddaramaiah’s residence, where chief minister H D Kumaraswamy joined the negotiations. Speculation is rife that Chikkaballapura MLA Sudhakar, who too has resigned from the assembly, would join the other rebels staying in a Mumbai hotel. Congress leadership has also made attempts to persuade other MLAs, sources said, adding Kumaraswamy himself was trying to persuade at least four rebel Congress MLAs to withdraw their resignations.

Meanwhile, a group of BJP leaders, led by MLA S R Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, met seven-time Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who has resigned as legislator, at his residence. Reddy refused to comment on the development, and said he would attend the Assembly on Monday.

State BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa made it clear that his party will press Kumaraswamy to seek trust vote in the Assembly on Monday, asserting that the Congress-JD(S) coalition government has lost majority and its collapse was imminent. According to sources, at the Business Advisory Committee meeting on Friday Kumaraswamy had proposed that the trust vote be held on Wednesday. However, no decision was taken as the principal opposition BJP did not attend the meeting.

Expressing confidence on winning the trust vote, state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed that BJP did not move the no confidence motion as the party was not confident about the numbers. In a bid to keep their flock together, both Congress and BJP have shifted their MLAs to hotels and resorts.

JD(S) MLAs have been camping at a resort for the last couple of days. The ruling coalition’s strength in the House is 116 (Congress 78, JD(S) 37 and BSP one), besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House. If the resignation of the 16 rebel MLAs is accepted, the ruling coalition’s tally will be reduced to 100.