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BSP Minister quits Karnataka govt, party says timing is a ‘coincidence’

N Mahesh said the decision was taken in light of the approaching Lok Sabha elections next year and he would support JD (S) candidates in the by-elections set to be held for two assembly and three Lok Sabha seats next month.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2018 07:44 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times
BSP minister,karnataka government,BSP leader quits
N Mahesh who is also the primary and secondary education minister in the nearly four-month-old coalition government in Karnataka has resigned due to “personal reasons.” (N Mahesh/Facebook Photo)

The lone Bahujan Samaj Party legislator N Mahesh who is also the primary and secondary education minister in the nearly four-month-old coalition government in Karnataka has resigned due to “personal reasons.”

The BSP and the Janata Dal (Secular) had formed a pre-poll alliance before the assembly elections in May. Subsequently, when the JD(S) decided to ally with the Congress after the polls threw up a hung verdict, Mahesh was inducted into the state cabinet, making him the first BSP minister in any state outside Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing a press conference after submitting his resignation to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Governor Vajubhai Vala, Mahesh said: “I have resigned from my post and will work hard in my constituency and to build the party in the state. I have only resigned as a minister but will continue to support chief minister HD Kumaraswamy,” he said.

Mahesh said the decision was taken in light of the approaching Lok Sabha elections next year and he would support JD (S) candidates in the by-elections set to be held for two assembly and three Lok Sabha seats next month.

“I will campaign everywhere for the JD(S) candidate,” he said. Mahesh claimed he had not even informed BSP chief Mayawati of the decision and that he would not reconsider his decision even if she asked him to.

“The party and the movement are more important to me than any position. I was not aware that being a minister would take up so much of my time and my constituents have expressed displeasure that I have not been able to devote more time to them,” Mahesh said. He insisted that there were no differences within the government.

Even as Mahesh claimed he had not informed the party, Rajya Sabha MP and Karnataka in-charge of the BSP Ashok Siddharth was present with the Karnataka leader. Speaking to HT, Siddharth said it was a coincidence that the minister chose this moment to resign.

“I am visiting the state because I am in-charge of overseeing the party here. Besides, I will not be able to visit in the next few months because of elections in other states,” Siddharth said.

“Mahesh had not informed me before as well,” he added.

Mayawati had only last week dented chances of a pre-poll alliance with the Congress when she announced that the party would go it alone in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh elections. Siddhrath, though, denied that there was any relation between these developments.

“We had an alliance in Karnataka with the JD (S) and not the Congress, so there is no question of a connection between the two decisions,” Siddharth said. He added that Mayawati had also twice resigned her post as chief minister in 1997 and 2003 to help build the party.

The Karnataka Congress said there was no question of the resignation coming as a big blow to the party as it was never in an alliance with the BSP in the state.

“Mahesh was made a minister as part of the JD(S)’s quota while forming the government. So, there is no question of this affecting our party. We will see in the coming days if it was a decision taken by the BSP chief or if, like Mahesh said, he wants to concentrate on strengthening the party,” Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said.

The Congress-JD(S) alliance government enjoys the support of 118 of the 222 current members at present, including Mahesh.

Repeated attempts to reach out to the Chief Minister’s office for comment went unanswered.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 20:38 IST