The political drama in Karnataka continued with the Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), and Congress persuading all their ministers to step down so that disgruntled legislators can take their place in a last-ditch effort to save the coalition government led by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Several legislators of the Congress and the JD(S) had resigned on Saturday, while two independent MLAs resigned on Monday to express their discontent with the ruling dispensation with the year-old coalition. The Congress and JD(S) legislators now remain holed up in a plush hotel in Mumbai.
“Ministers voluntarily resigned to make way for others to be accommodated," said former chief minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah.
“All ministers from #JDS have submitted their resignations just like the 21 ministers from #Congress. Cabinet reshuffle will happen soon," Kumaraswamy wrote on his Twitter handle.
The government has been seen as increasingly desperate as resignations from the coalition continued on Monday.
H. Nagesh and R. Shankar, the two independents who were inducted into the cabinet barely a month ago, resigned as ministers and extended their support to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which appears all set to form the next government just over a year after assembly elections.
Nagesh was bundled away in a private charter, like the other 10 on Saturday, raising questions on whether the BJP had funded their flights.
The BJP, which claims to have no role in the resignation of the Congress and the JD(S) legislators, is confident that at least four to five more MLAs will resign.
On Monday, the BJP said that the Karnataka governor should intervene and ask the coalition government to step down as it no longer has the numbers to remain in power.
Since 1 July, at least 13 Congress and JD(S) legislators have resigned as MLAs and two independents have pulled out of the government. However, K.R. Ramesh Kumar, the legislative assembly Speaker is yet to accept the resignations and is likely to look into them on Tuesday.
If the Speaker accepts the resignations, it would render 13 seats vacant and bring down the coalition’s total to 103, excluding Kumar, while the BJP has 107, including the support of the two independent legislators. This gives the BJP the numbers to form the government.
However, Kumar would have to ascertain the cause of the resignations and the BJP might be wary of taking over anytime now as the month from 3 July is considered inauspicious.
The Congress and the JD(S) plan to use all possible measures and also take recourse to legal means if needed to hold fort for as long as possible as that would give it time to resolve the crisis.
The JD(S) on Monday ferried its legislators to a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru to shield them from alleged poaching attempts by the BJP. Ironically, the coalition government that began its journey from a resort in May last year, after a post-poll alliance between the Congress and JD(S), headed back to the comfort of a hotel amid reports of horse trading.
The faction-hit state unit of the party finds itself in the middle of its biggest political crisis with little evidence of anyone wanting to keep the coalition afloat. Congress members in Karnataka appear to be at loggerheads with each other on what needs to be done, with some wanting to wait and others advising a reverse operation to wean away BJP legislators.