Umesh Jadhav, the Congress legislator from Chincholi constituency (Kalaburagi district) in Karnataka, on Monday resigned from his post, putting his party on the back foot weeks after it claimed to have quelled all dissent within its ranks in the run-up to parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held later this year.
Jadhav was one of the four rebel legislators from the Congress who were suspected to have defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after he was overlooked for a seat at the H.D.Kumaraswamy cabinet.
His resignation, submitted on Monday to assembly speaker, K.R Ramesh Kumar, will not help the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and the Congress coalition government in Karnataka or their plans to join forces to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre.
Senior BJP leaders said that Jadhav is one of the leading contenders for a Lok Sabha ticket from the saffron outfit to contest against Congress heavyweight and leader of the opposition in the lower house of parliament, Mallikarjun Kharge.
Jadhav’s exit could open the gates for other such rebels, including Ramesh Jarkiholi, B.Nagendra and Mahesh Kumtahalli, who have aired their displeasure in public that has kept the stability of the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in focus ever since the two parties came together over nine months ago.
“He betrayed the Congress for his selfish needs," Dinesh Gundu Rao, state president of the Congress, said on Monday.
Jadhav had defied his party that had warranted a notice seeking an explanation and a petition submitted to the speaker demanding him to take action under the stringent anti-defection laws.
With seat sharing stuck in a limbo and taking longer than expected due to the tough stand taken by the two parties, the developments could put more pressure on the Congress to cede to demands made by the rebels or risk eroding some more seats to the BJP.
Siddaramaiah, former CM and chairman of the coordination and monitoring committee on Monday said that he was sure that Jadhav or the other rebels would stay back with the party.
Jadhav’s resignation brings the total of the lower house to 223 seats and the JD(S)-Congress tally to 116 (excluding the speaker). The BJP has 104 seats and is hoping to capitalise on the friction between the coalition partners and dissent within the Congress to its own advantage and help it form the government in Karnataka, that is considered the gateway into other south Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where it is trying to win some representation in the upcoming polls.
Meanwhile, the Congress and JD(S) said that its seat sharing discussions were moving in the ‘right direction" even though JD(S) supremo and former PM H.D.Deve Gowda has already made his intent clear to discuss seat sharing only with Rahul Gandhi and not with any state leaders.
Even though the discussions are yet to conclude, the JD(S) has already announced the Nikhil Kumar, son of Kumaraswamy and Prajwal Revanna, son of H.D.Revanna will be contesting from Mandya and Hassan, heralding the entry of the third generation of politicians from the Gowda household.