Bengaluru: Two independent legislators in Karnataka on Tuesday withdrew their support to the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S)-Congress coalition, prompting speculation that more were on the way out.

Former forest and environment minister R.Shankar and H.Nagesh from Mulbagal wrote to the Karnataka governor withdrawing their support to the coalition government “with immediate effect", in what appeared to be part of a larger plan.

Though the withdrawal will impact the coalition, the numbers still favour the Kumaraswamy government. The coalition has 118 legislators, including 37 JD(S) MLAs, one from the Bahujan Samaj Party, and 80 from the Congress, including the speaker in the 224-seat assembly, which is well above the majority of 113.

Assuming the two independents do extend their support to the BJP, the saffron outfit will increase its tally to 106, and will still require the support of seven more legislators.

Though the coalition partners were quick to downplay the event, speculation that at least three Congress legislators, currently in Mumbai, will also switch sides heightened fears of an imminent collapse of the government.

Also Read | Karnataka row: BJP MLAs huddle at Haryana resort fearing poaching

The stability of the coalition government has been questioned repeatedly since it assumed power in May.

A press conference, which was to be convened at 5pm on Tuesday in Mumbai by the Congress legislators was, however, cancelled.

The Karnataka chief minister on Tuesday reacted to the developments rather calmly. “If two independent MLAs withdraw their support, what will be the numbers," he said, adding: “I am totally relaxed."

Kumaraswamy said he was enjoying the “episodes" on Kannada news channels, which have been predicting defections from the Congress and an imminent fall of the government.

“We are working in a democratic system and it’s not easy for anybody to topple a government," G. Parameshwara, deputy chief minister and senior Congress leader, said.

The BJP denied it was poaching legislators, saying mistrust and dissatisfaction between the JD(S) and Congress would be the reason if the government fell.

The JD(S) and Congress, which have shared a turbulent relationship in the past, have not been able to bury all their differences. The two parties have openly come out against each other on several contentious topics and are currently playing hardball on seat-sharing for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The coalition’s attempts to portray the saffron outfit as a destabilizing agent is working well for the two parties who had joined hands after last year’s assembly elections to take on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The Congress, which is trying to mobilise the opposition to help it get back to power at the centre, has accused the BJP-led Union government of destroying democracy and democratic institutions in India.

Close