Coalition trouble :HD Kumaraswamy Back, Deve Gowda Heads Karnataka Crisis,’13 MLAs will not withdraw resignation’: Rebel Cong MLA ST.Somashekar

Pramesh Jain

Karnataka Drama: Defiant rebel MLAs refuse to take back resignation, say they won’t attend CLP meet

* Amid high drama in Bengaluru, Karnataka Congress MLA ST Somasekhar on Sunday, told the media that there was no question ‘withdrawing their resignations’.
* Nine legislators from the Congress and three from the JD(S) handed their resignations to the assembly speaker
* It would bring the one-year-old coalition government led by chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on the brink of a collapse
* The Congress and Janata Dal Secular have been holding a series of meetings since morning to consider the possibility of saving the government after 11 legislators from the ruling coalition resigned on Saturday.Former chief minister Siddaramaiah,meanwhile, has called a meeting of Congress Legislature Party on Tuesday.
* Former prime minister and JDS veteran HD Deve Gowda has been meeting party leaders. He also met Congress’s troubleshooter DK Shivakumar.
* The Congress’ state in charge, KC Venugopal, has come to Bengaluru and met state party leaders at a private hotel.
* The Congress played down the crisis, with its former chief minister, Siddaramaiah,saying,There is no threat to the coalition government.It is safe.Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the party is in still in touch with the rebels and will get a clear picture on the July 12, when the assembly session begins.
* Speaker Ramesh Kumar said he would look at the latest batch of resignations only after he returns to work on Tuesday.
* The Congress and the JDS together have 118 members in the 224-seat state assembly, along with one BSP and one Independent member. The defections will bring its numbers down to 105 and the majority mark in the assembly from 113 to 106. The BJP also has 105 members.
* The BJP has said it should be invited to form a new government if the ruling coalition lacks the numbers. But it has denied the coalition’s accusations of engineering the crisis.
* Let’s wait and watch. Are we sanyasis (hermits)? After the resignation process is over and the speaker takes his decision, leaders of our party will discuss and decide,” state BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said in response to a question whether the party was preparing to form government.
* Eight Congress and three Janata Dal Secular legislators submitted their resignations to the Speaker on Saturday afternoon. They then met Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan before being flown out to Mumbai.
* The Congress has alleged that the rebel legislators were taken to Mumbai in a plane that was arranged by the BJP. The party also said BJP leaders visited the hotel where the lawmakers are staying.
Will HD Kumaraswamy give up throne to save Government?.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy was forced to cut short his US visit and head home on Sunday to take stock of the growing political crisis in his coalition government with 12 MLA sending their resignations to the Assembly speaker on Saturday.
Straight after landing in Bengaluru this evening, Kumaraswamy got into a meeting with JD(S) national president HD Deve Gowda,Deputy CM G Parameshwara and other senior Congress leaders at the Taj West End hotel in the city.
While Somashekar was in no mood to relent, CM Kumaraswamy almost went down on his knees at the meeting with former CM Siddaramaiah.Sources said, When Kumaraswamy met Siddaramaiah, he pleaded with him to somehow bring back Somashekar and others who are his close aides (disciples).The CM further added that Ramalinga Reddy, the Congress MLA from BTM Layout holds the key to everything. If he is brought back,things will fall back to normalcy.While Kumaraswamy sought Siddaramaiah to talk to his close aides, he added that he would speak to H Vishwanath,the JD(S) MLA from Hunsur and other JD(S) MLAs who have resigned and bring them back.The despondency doesn’t stop with the CM. Earlier today (July 7) senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge rang up Ramalinga Reddy to extend an olive branch and ensure he doesn’t shift loyalties.But sources say that Reddy was not moved even by an inch by Kharge’s implorations.He is reported to have said, When I made similar pleas when I was relegated, you did not respond to me. I have made up my mind. I won’t budge he said to Senior congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
Similar was the case with trouble-shooter DK Shivakumar, who met RR Nagar Congress MLA Muniratna along with his brother DK Suresh.The siblings spoke to an incensed and indignant Muniratna for two hours, but Muniratna didn’t pay heed. Ultimately,he organised a formal rapprochement with KC Venugopal, the Congress state in-charge for Karnataka. Fortunately for the Congress,Muniratna is said to have conceded.
Among the hectic talks,Siddaramaiah urged his supporters on social media not to foul-mouth anyone or issue statements that are an affront to any senior leader.
Surely, the dissidence in coalition ranks is proving to be a tough nut to crack for the honchos of both the parties.
Earlier in the day, Congress’s trusted troubleshooter DK Shivakumar met senior JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda at his residence.
A cirular has been issued by the Congress to all MLAs to attend Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting called by CLP leader Siddaramaiah on July 9. Karnataka Congress in charge KC Venugopal and Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao will also be present in the meet.
The Congress workers held a protest outside party office in the city asking Congress MLAs to take back their resignations.
They’ve (JDS) called a meeting of their party leaders. We’ll also call our party leaders and sort out this issue. I’m confident things will cool down immediately. In interest of nation and both parties we’ve to run government smoothly. I’m confident MLAs will come back, Congress’s DK Shivakumar told media persons.
Out of the 12 legislators who submitted their resignations in the office of Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, nine were from the Congress and three from the JD(S).The legislators were not able to meet the Speaker and left their resignations with his aides in his office.
Later all the rebel MLAs met Governor Vajubhai Valla and all the rebel MLAs tendered their resignations to Governor also at his office in Raj Bhavan in the presence of Bengaluru city police commissioner,Alok kumar and Governor Vajubhai Vala ordered commissioner to give full security to the Disgrunted or Rebel MLAs till they reach to Airport and the same was followed by commissioner with full protection and escorts all the MLAs were taken to Airport in Tempo Traveller and some where taken in their own cars with full tight security.
Later in the evening on Saturday at around 7 pm all the rebel MLAs of coalition government left to Mumbai in a special charted flight.
Responding to the developments, BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa on Sunday said,I am going to Tumkur and I will come back at 4 pm.You know about the political developments.Let’s wait and see.I do not want to answer to what HD Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah say. I am nowhere related to this and we are waiting for the speakers reaction he added.
While senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said he wants the alliance government to continue.We want that this should go on smoothly he said.
The differences in the ruling coalition government, which came together to forestall a BJP bid for power in the only southern state it has ever ruled, have been out in the open for quite sometime. Leaders of both the parties have been involved in war of words.
The Congress and JD(S) won just one Lok Sabha seat each in the Lok Sabha elections while the BJP won 25 of the 28 seats in the state.
Through out the day,his father HD Deve Gowda held a string of meetings with leaders of his party as well as the Congress.If the resignation of all 13 lawmakers is accepted,the government of the Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular, which has a wafer-thin majority, will collapse.
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 Munirathana, 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.
Meanwhile Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) on Sunday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that “Modi has similar qualities of 14th century Sultan of Delhi Muhammad bin Tughlaq.Narendra Modi, who is ruling the country, has similar qualities of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.The BJP has undertaken “Operation Lotus” in 10 States and sabotaging to end democracy. “Karnataka should not succumb to Modi’s tactics,” the KPCC tweeted.
The BJP took strong exception to the tweet and said the Congress “insulted” the Prime Minister. In the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 25 seats while the JD(S) and the Congress won one seat each in Karnataka.In earlier instances too, several leaders compared Mr. Modi to Tughlaq. During the 2019 election campaign, Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that “Mr. Narendra Modi is as terrible as Muhammad bin Tughlaq was”.
The resignations by senior Congress leaders like Ramalinga Reddy have taken the party by surprise.
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.
Meanwhile R.Roshan Baig who is yet to take any decision on his resignation said to reporters that he is busy with sending pilgrims to HAJ and after two days he will decide his action.
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.
Speaking to the media, persons in Mumbai,Congress MLA from Yeshwanthpur ST Somashekar,who addressed the media at Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex told the media that the 13 MLAs, who have tendered their resignations, will under no circumstance go back on their decision.Ten MLAs are currently here in Mumbai.Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna and Anand Singh will join us tomorrow (Monday).Under no circumstance will the 13 MLAs go back on our decision to withdraw our resignation letters.We have been hearing in the media that some of us are willing to withdraw our resignation letters. This is not true,ST Somashekar said.Somashekar also stated that the rebel MLAs had not demanded that the Chief Minister be changed but only expressed their disillusionment about Kumaraswamy’s administration.We have not demanded that Kumaraswamy be replaced with another CM.That was never our demand.We will not go back on our decision.On paper, the coalition may still be together but the government had already toppled 10 days ago.We aired our grievances and we also informed our leaders that we would quit,Somashekar said.
Backing up Somashekar’s statement,BC Patil too said that the 13 rebel MLAs would not go back on their decision.Whatever BC Patil said is true.We 13 MLAs will not withdraw our resignations under any circumstance,BC Patil said.
Somashekar’s statement comes just in the heels of JD(S) leader GT Deve Gowda’s saying that the party was willing to allow Siddaramaiah or any other Congress leader become the Chief Minister.
The political drama began unfolding last week after MLAs Anand Singh and Ramesh Jarkiholi resigned.Soon after,11 other Congress and JD(S) MLAs tendered their resignations on Saturday and flew away to a hotel in Mumbai, awaiting the Speaker’s decision slated to be announced later on Tuesday.
The 10 Congress and 3 JD(S) MLAs include former state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, Ramesh Jarkiholi, H Vishwanath,ST Somashekar,Pratapgouda Patil,K Gopalaiah,BC Patil, Mahesh Kumtahallli,Narayana Gowda, Byrathi Basavaraj,Shivaram Hebbar,Anand Singh and Munirathna Naidu.
The strength of the coalition government is 120 now, including the Speaker.Congress has 80 MLAs, the JD(S) has 37 MLAs and there is 1 BSP MLA.Two independent MLAs,R Shankar from Ranebennur and H Nagesh from Mulbagal constituencies are also supporting the coalition.The BJP’s strength in the Assembly is 105. The majority mark is 113.The BJP needs 16 MLAs from the coalition to resign in order to topple the government and come to power.
What led to the political crisis?
The difficulty of sharing power is at the heart of the ongoing crisis. A coalition government meant limited number of ministerial berths had to be shared between the Congress and the JD(S). This sparked resentment and rebellion within both the parties.
Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy is seen as the leader of the current rebellion. He had served as the home minister in the previous government.Left out of the cabinet this time around, for over six months, Reddy had been complainingthat the Congress leadership had ignored him and other senior leaders.
The same resentment was visible among other Congress and JD(S) MLAs, who all hoped to find a plum position in the government as quickly as possible,since there were doubts over how long the coalition would last.
The Lok Sabha results, in which the BJP swept Karnataka, only exacerbated the situation. With the Centre firmly in the hands of the BJP, these rebel legislators may have come to a conclusion that there was no advantage in continuing in the Congress or the JD(S).
Who are the rebelling MLAs?
In all, 14 MLAs have submitted resignations since July 1. The first to resign was Congress MLA Anand Singh, who represents the Vijayanagara seat in Ballari. Other high profile names from the Congress include Ramalinga Reddy and H Vishwanath, two senior leaders who were seen as opposed to former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who currently heads the coalition’s coordination council.
Also among the rebels is Ramesh Jarkiholi, who has for months shown an inclination to quit the Congress and join the BJP. A local heavyweight from Belgavi in North Karnataka, he was dropped from the Cabinet in December and has ever since become the biggest headache for the coalition government.
Jarikiholli was expected to be reinstated as minister in June, but the Cabinet expansion was restricted to including two independent MLAs, H Nagesh and AR Shankar, as the coalition leadership felt giving berths to one aspirant and ignoring the others would unsettle the government.
Other Congress legislators who have rebelled include BC Patil from Hirekerur, Pratapgauda Patil from Maski, Shivram Hebbar from Yellapur, Mahesh Kumatahalli from Athani, ST Somashekar from Yeshvantpur, Byrathi Basavaraj from KR Puram, Muniratna Naidu from RR Nagar and SN Subba Reddy from KGF.
On the list of JD(S) MLAs who have submitted resignations are Narayana Gowda from KR Pet, Gopalaiah from Mahalakshmi Layout and AH Vishwanath from Hunsur.
In all, five MLAs from the Bengaluru region have resigned, making this the largest bloc. Speculations have been rife that Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter and Jayanagar constituency MLA Sowmya Reddy is also gearing up to join the rebellion.
How do the party numbers stack up?
The most critical question following the rebellion is whether the coalition government can survive. Given the close numbers in the Karnataka Assembly, this is unlikely.
In all the Congress-JD(S) coalition has 118 members in the 224-member assembly, excluding the Speaker. This count includes the 14 rebels. If their resignations are accepted by the Speaker, the coalition strength will drop to 104.
Meanwhile, the BJP has 105 MLAs. If the assembly loses 14 members, its strength will drop to 210, which means the BJP will be just one legislator short of majority.
The problem for the Congress and the JD(S) is that of the 118 MLAs, two are independents and one belongs to the Bahujan Samaj Party. If these three shift loyalties, the BJP could comfortably form the government and wait for the bye-elections to the 14 seats to improve its numbers.
In fact, the BJP’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections may have boosted the confidence of the rebel legislators, who may perhaps feel that they have a strong chance of re-election as a BJP candidate.
The coalition is hoping that as ministers, the two independents will not quit.
What will the speaker do?
Part of Friday’s drama was the fact that Speaker Ramesh Kumar chose to stay away from office and said that he would decide on the resignations on Tuesday, the next working day he will be in office.
There is a possibility that the speaker would try to delay the fall of the government by a few weeks by rejecting their resignations. But as per the assembly rules, unless and until there is a problem with the format in which resignations are submitted, the speaker has no option but to accept them.
Another possibility is that the speaker could simply sit on the resignations and not decide on them as the law is still unclear on whether the courts can order the speaker to make a decision since the assembly is his exclusive domain.
Will there be a vote of confidence?
If the governor feels the speaker is stalling the resignations, he has the right to order a confidence vote. This means the government will have to face a confidence vote on the floor of the assembly whether or not the Speaker accepts the resignations.
On Friday, the rebel MLAs met Governor Vajubhai Vala after submitting their resignations to the speaker’s office. The governor is selected by the Union government, which is why many believe the advantage lies with the BJP.
Coalition Demolition.
There were reports of a change of guard as an option to save the government by making veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge the Chief Minister.Kharge ruled it out,saying false and flimsy news was being spread through the media just to divide the party.I don’t know about it.I want this alliance government to continue and go smoothly,” he said,adding he would also talk to the MLAs to withdraw their resignations He charged the BJP with trying to destabilize the “non BJP”elected governments across the country he added.
There were also reports that Siddaramaiah may be considered for Chief Minister if JD(S) agrees, to which JD(S) leader and Minister G T Devegowda said “If the coordination committee decides Siddaramaiah should be the CM, we have no be it he said to reporters.
Kumaraswamy, who arrived in Mumbai this evening from the U.S.,drove straight to a hotel where a JD(S) MLAs meet is on.
Sources said he asked the MLAs to stay united against BJP’s “operation” and about ways to save the government.
He later held discussions with Congress leaders, including AICC General Secretary Venugopal and Siddaramaiah, they said.
All options, including a cabinet reshuffle to make way for disgruntled MLAs, by asking some loyalists of both parties to resign from the Ministry, are likely to be discussed during Congress leaders’ meeting with the CM, sources had said.
Congress leaders, including Venugopal who have camped in Mumbai, held a series of meetings Sunday to strategise the plan of action in a last ditch effort to save the government.
They also tried to reach out to MLAs who resigned and pacify them, sources said, adding efforts were also made to contact MLAs suspected to be vulnerable and who might resign in the days to come.
Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, Minister D K Shivakumar and KPCC Working President Eshwar Khandre were part of the meetings.
The Congress’ high command has reportedly questioned state unit leaders about how they had allowed such a large number of resignations to happen, party sources said.
They also specifically asked about resignations of Byrati Basavaraj (K R Puram),S T Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur) and Munirathna naidu (Rajarajeshwaringar), considered close to Siddaramaiah.
Meetings were also on in JD(S) circles, at the residence of party patriarch Deve Gowda.
Shivakumar, considered the Congress’ troubleshooter also met Gowda at his home and discussed the developments
Stating that attempts are on pacify the MLAs, Siddaramaiah earlier in the day alleged that BJP was behind it, using power and money as allurements to lure the disgruntled MLAs.
Meanwhile the coalition government after the marathon and series of meeting at Taj West End,State Incharge of Congress,KC Venugopal had made a plan to save the coalition government he has instructed all the leaders to be ready to tender resignation as by this plan they can pacify Disgrunted MLAs this are the ways by the coalition government to save the government.
BJP state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa said the party was watching the developments and that they were not “sanyasis” to rule out the possibility of forming the government.Ruling out the possibility of any mid-term polls, he said “it has been just 13 months after the assembly election. We will not allow election to happen.Let them (Congress-JDS) give good administration.If they can’t, we are there with strength of 105 MLAs.we will not meet the Governor or go to Delhi for now.we are watching the developments,” he added.
The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength, including those who have put in their papers, is 118 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1 and Independents-2), besides the Speaker.
BJP has 105 MLAs in the House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations are accepted, the coalition’s tally will reduce to 105.The Speaker also has a vote.