Karnataka CM H.D.Kumaraswamy.
Karnataka CM H.D.Kumaraswamy.

Coalition’s fate hangs in balance as Karnataka gears up for trust vote

  • CM Kumaraswamy makes a last-ditch attempt to save coalition, asks rebel MLAs to return for floor test
  • Troubles for Karnataka can continue even if BJP manages to form the next govt

BENGALURU : Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Sunday made yet another to appeal to rebel legislators holed up in Mumbai, asking them to return for his government’s floor test likely on Monday. In a statement, he asked them not to fall for the ploy of “evil forces" and their attempts “to shake the very foundation of democracy" by misusing political influence.

“It is a matter of immense pain and disgust that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not only taken Karnataka’s political scenario to a new low, but also set a new benchmark in the country for immoral politics," Kumaraswamy said.

The chief minister spoke of alleged malpractice and political impropriety, and accused the BJP of plotting the resignation drama.

“At this juncture, I would like to appeal to such MLAs who have gone away from us to please attend the legislature session and narrate how the BJP took them away forcefully," he said, adding how the saffron outfit had “sabotaged democratic edifice and destroyed its sanctity."

With around 20 legislators likely to remain absent from the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S) camps, the 14-month-old coalition government is staring at a collapse, after almost a year of uncertainty.

The coalition got a breather after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Sunday said its lone legislator in Karnataka will support the coalition during the floor test.

The Congress-JD(S) coalition has approached the Supreme Court for clarity on its earlier order to help the alliance disqualify rebels under the stringent anti-defection laws.

But troubles for the state could remain even if the BJP does manage to wrest power from Kumaraswamy.

Analysts say that the saffron outfit has to win most of the bypolls as well as accommodate the demands of the rebels which could add to the displeasure of its own leadership and cadre in the state.

“This is going to be a period of further instability," said Narendar Pani, a political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. He said if the BJP fails to win at least eight of the 15 bypolls, then Karnataka would face similar circumstances a few months later and the state may be forced into a re-election.

Though Karnataka has witnessed similar situations in its political history, the continued drama in the state could have a lasting impact on its population, reeling under a drought, acute drinking water shortages and other more pressing concerns.

Kumaraswamy has assured to conclude the discussions on Monday, paving the way for the trust vote. The BJP has blamed Kumaraswamy of prolonging the floor test and the speaker for siding with the coalition.

The coalition has missed two deadlines given by the Karnataka governor, Vajubhai Vala, pushing the political problems into a constitutional crisis and raising apprehensions of a possibility of President’s rule.

Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar is yet to accept the resignations of the rebel MLAs.

The coalition, meanwhile, has accused the BJP of trying to buy off legislators and holding them hostage in a Mumbai hotel to bring down the government. It has made allegations of abduction, money exchanges, subverting democratic processes and other charges further eroding the already poor quality of political discourse.

Meanwhile, the Congress and JD(S) have moved SC, asking to be impleaded in the case filed by the 15 legislators. The alliance is hoping to get clarity over a portion of the interim order passed by the SC over the issue of the party whip and sanctions for violating them.

The Congress currently has the support of 65 MLAs (excluding the speaker) while the JD(S) and BSP together have 35, taking the total strength of the coalition to 100. There is one nominated member who is likely to vote for the coalition. The BJP has 105 MLAs and the support of two independent members. The Congress is trying to disqualify R. Shankar, who had agreed to merge his party with the former.

15 Congress and JD(S) legislators have resigned since 1 July and two Congress MLAs are admitted in hospitals.

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