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Karnataka crisis: More rebels move SC; 1 MLA says back in fold

State housing minister and Hoskote MLA, MTB Nagaraj, said senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramiah and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, had met him and asked him to withdraw his resignation.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2019 00:30 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru, New Delhi
Karnataka crisis,HD Kumaraswamy,Siddaramiah
Karnataka rebel Congress MLAs visit Shirdi shrine in Maharashtra on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

The Congress stepped up efforts to win back party rebels in Karnataka, one of whom indicated he may be willing to withdraw his resignation as a legislator, as five more MLAs moved the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking protection from action by the assembly speaker.

State housing minister and Hoskote MLA, MTB Nagaraj, said senior Congress leaders, including former chief minister Siddaramiah and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, had met him and asked him to withdraw his resignation.

“I and Sudhakar had given resignation from MLA’s post. All the leaders are asking me to stay in Congress since morning. I have decided to stay in the party...will try to convince Sudhakar and both of us will take our resignation back,” MTB Nagaraj said after meeting Siddaramiah and other Congress leaders.

Sixteen MLAs belonging to Karnataka’s ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition have submitted resignations from the assembly over the past week, plunging the 15-month-old government into a crisis. Thirteen belong to the Congress and three to the Janata Dal (Secular). Two independent MLAs, who were made ministers recently to provide stability to the government, have quit the cabinet and withdrawn their support.

The defections will trigger a legal clause that disqualifies the MLAs, bringing the 224-member assembly’s down to 208 and giving the BJP a majority in the House. Excluding the rebels, the ruling coalition has a strength of 101, including the speaker, who cannot vote in the assembly unless it is to break a tie.

A day after chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said he would seek a trust vote in the House, the coalition intensified efforts to reach out to the rebel MLAs.

Congress’s troubleshooter Shivakumar reached Nagaraj’s residence early on Saturday and was closeted with him for four-and-a-half hours., Parameshwara too reached Nagaraj’s house later to convince him to withdraw his resignation. A similar attempt was on to persuade MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna, K Sudhakar and R Roshan Baig, PTI reported.

Politicians in the JD(S) familiar with the situation said Kumaraswamy was in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators.

A group of BJP leaders, led by MLA SR Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, met Ramalinga Reddy at his residence.The Congress and JD(S) have accused the BJP of engineering the crisis in their ranks--a claim denied by BJP. Ramalinga Reddy refused to comment on his meeting with the BJP leaders, saying he would not speak on politics until July 15, when he has to appear before the assembly speaker.

State BJP president BS Yeddyurappa said efforts by the ruling coalition partners would not yield any result, predicting that the fall of the government was “imminent”.

“A systematic conspiracy is going on to bring the MLAs back,” the former Karnataka chief minister told reporters.“The atmosphere is chaotic and the fall of the government is imminent,” he said. Claiming that the ruling coalition had lost its majority in the assembly, Yeddyurappa said seeking a vote of confidence was “meaningless”.

Kumaraswamy said on Friday that he would seek a trust vote on the floor of the assembly after the apex court ordered the speaker to maintain status quo on the resignations of 10 rebel MLAs of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) until July 16. The 10 have filed a petition in the top court seeking a directive to the speaker to accept their resignations.

On Saturday, five of the remaining six MLAs -- Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraju, Munirathna and Roshan Baig --filed a joint petition in the court, saying they were in an identical position as the 10 MLAs and should be covered by the status quo placed by the court on action by the speaker. The five rebel MLAs, in their petition said: “It is pertinent to state herein that the Chief Minister has announced on July 12 on the floor of the house that they would be seeking a floor test. It is submitted that despite the Applicants having resigned, the Applicants are being threatened to support the Govt. on the threat of disqualification.”

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jul 14, 2019 00:29 IST