Bengaluru: Vidhana Soudha, the seat of power in Karnataka, turned into a fortress on Thursday, with hundreds of police and other security personnel deployed to maintain peace on a day when the entire state remains on the edge over the future of the H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government.
Kumaraswamy, whose government has battled threats to its stability ever since it came to power in May last year, will head for the ongoing monsoon session which will take up discussions for the trust vote on Thursday. Speaker K.R.Ramesh Kumar has said the discussions will start at 11 am. It remains to be seen if the vote will be taken up on the same day.
The confidence motion was necessitated after at least 16 Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) legislators resigned from their membership of the lower house, pushing the coalition government to the brink of collapse. Two more legislators have also pulled out of the government.
Though the speaker is yet to accept the resignations, most of those who have put in their papers are unlikely to participate in the session or the trust vote. The coalition is likely to fall short on numbers as it stands on 102 that includes the return of senior leader Ramalinga Reddy and the support of the one nominated member.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 105 on its own and has the support of two independent members--one of whom faces disqualification if the coalition has its way. Though both sides claim to have the numbers to make it through, they remain cautious of the opponent’s plans that include poaching legislators.
Legislators from all three parties are lodged in plush resorts in and around Bengaluru, enjoying luxuries at a time when the state is reeling under severe drought and acute drinking water shortage. The government and opposition have invested all their resources in the political crisis leaving little time to address more pressing concerns facing Karnataka and its people.
The coalition blames Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Amit Shah for engineering the crisis while the BJP has pointed out to the deep seated differences between Congress and JD(S) for the current situation.
The JD(S) and Congress have a long list of speakers who will present their arguments in favour of the government, that could drag the current crisis much longer. But Congress and JD(S) leaders say if Kumaraswamy is not confident of the return of rebels or getting some BJP MLA’s to abstain, the chief minister could step down on Thursday itself.