Bengaluru: After almost a year of false alarms, a total of 12 legislators from both Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) handed in their resignations, threatening to send the state into a political crisis.
Nine legislators from the Congress and three from the JD(S) handed in their resignations to the assembly speaker's office. If accepted, this could bring the one-year-old coalition government led by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to the brink of a collapse.
"The coalition government has failed in fulfilling the aspirations of the people of the state," A.H. Vishwanath, the former JD(S) state president, said in Bengaluru on Saturday.
Vishwanath had stepped down from his role as president barely a few days ago.
The list included Congress legislators like Muniratha, Byrathi Basavaraj and S.T.Somashekar, all three considered close associates of former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who has in the past been accused of engineering dissent and destabilizing the government to settle personal scores with the JD(S) top leadership.
The resignations by senior Congress leaders like Ramalinga Reddy have taken the party by surprise.
Kumaraswamy is scheduled to land in Bengaluru on Sunday but is constantly in touch with the political developments, people familiar with his plans said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were quick to issue a statement denying any involvement in the developments.
"I am categorically reiterating that the BJP has absolutely no say on the issue," B.S.Yeddyurappa, state BJP president, said in a statement on Saturday.
The resignations, yet to be accepted by Speaker K.R.Ramesh Kumar, follow days after Congress legislator Anand Singh handed in his papers. At the time, people associated with the BJP had said that there would be an exodus from the coalition as no one wants to remain on a sinking ship.
The coalition has 117 MLAs, including the two independents and excluding the speaker, while the BJP has 105. There is one vacancy as the resignation of Ramesh Jarkiholi was not acknowledged by the speaker.
Kumar said that he would only be able to look into the resignations on Tuesday. This gives the coalition at least two days to try and avert a crisis.
The latest round of resignations, if they are accepted, will bring down the strength of the coalition in the lower house to around 105.
There is no clarity yet on leaders like R.Roshan Baig who are yet to take any decision.
The Congress says it is trying to retain some of the leaders and hasn't completely exhausted all its strategies just yet.
"We can buy some time and can even advance the monsoon session by about two weeks," said one Congress leader requesting not to be named. The person cited above said that there were a few legal options as well.
But the problem for the coalition may have emanated from within itself, leaders say.
The discord between the JD(S) and Congress appears insurmountable, especially after the Lok Sabha elections, in which the coalition was routed by the BJP which won 25 out the total 28 parliamentary seats.
The JD(S) and Congress have tried to reconcile differences and have hung on to power in Karnataka despite the constant threats of instability.
At least 10 legislators who resigned on Saturday were flown out of Bengaluru to an unknown destination.
List of MLAs who have resigned
Pratap Gouda Patil
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