BENGALURU : The H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in Karnataka continued to stare at an uncertain future with the first day of the budget session on Wednesday witnessing several conspicuous absentees from the Congress. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wasted no time to claim that the state government did not have the required numbers to continue in office.

At least five legislators from the Congress stayed away from the session despite a whip directing all party members to attend the assembly session from start to finish every day.

There were a few legislators missing from the BJP side and one from the JD(S) as well. But the missing legislators from the Congress has been the cause for concern within the party.

Most of those present, both from the Congress and the BJP, were busy trying to establish contact with legislators who showed up late and, especially those who were suspected to be potential defectors.

BJP legislators disrupted the governor’s speech on Wednesday, forcing him to stop mid-way. The BJP said that they disrupted the speech because the governor had misrepresented facts.

“This government has lost the confidence of the people, which is why we protested," BJP state president B.S. Yeddyurappa said, but added the party will neither meet the governor nor move a no-confidence motion against the government.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah downplayed the absence of some of his party legislators, saying he was in touch with all of them. “Not allowing Governor’s budget speech is an insult for the position," Siddaramaiah tweeted later. He said the BJP move “exposes their existential crisis" and failed bid to poach legislators.

(Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

Though the BJP has been accused of trying to poach lawmakers with money and promises of ministerial berths, the party said that it will wait for the government to fall on its own. The BJP is hoping to highlight the failure of the Congress to maintain a coalition with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka at the national level, where it is planning to unite opposition parties against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up to the parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held in April-May.

The BJP is hoping that the discord between the two alliance partners and growing factionalism within the Congress would benefit the saffron outfit. Though the coalition sounds confident of keeping its flock together, it has suffered setbacks after two independents withdrew support.

Yeddyurappa said his party, with 104 out of the 224 seats, will play the role of a responsible opposition. He, however, added that the BJP will decide its next course of action before chief minister Kumaraswamy presents the state budget on Friday.

The state government will be forced to step down if it fails to get the finance bill passed. The BJP is confident that more coalition legislators will abandon the government.