Kharge alleged that the Opposition BJP is engineering defections to overthrow governments in states ruled by Opposition parties.
Bengaluru: A day after 12 Congress and JD(S) MLAs resigned from the Karnataka Assembly, taking the total number of resignations to 13 and triggering a serious crisis in the ruling JD(S)-Congress government, sources said that coalition managers proposed Congress leader M. Malikarjun Kharge as an alternative to chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, hoping that this would pacify the dissidents. Mr Kharge, however, has dismissed these reports as “flimsy”.
JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda had in the past and now too favoured Mr Kharge as chief minister but it remains to be seen if the veteran Congressman will head the government of a coalition infested by internal dissidence with several MLAs waiting to jump ship.
Mr Kumaraswamy, who reached Bengaluru in the evening after cutting short his trip to the US, held several rounds of talks amid speculation over leadership change in the ruling coalition.
Sources said that if Mr Kharge flatly refuses to take up the chief minister’s post, another alternative has been proposed — home minister and leader of the dominant Lingayat community M.B. Patil. In such a scenario, PWD minister and Mr Kumaraswamy’s brother H.D. Revanna could be appointed deputy chief minister which, leaders hope, will help bring the dissidents back to the coalition fold and end the present crisis.
Speaking to reporters at a hurriedly convened press conference here, Mr Kharge alleged that the Opposition BJP is engineering defections to overthrow governments in states ruled by Opposition parties. “They want to weaken regional parties. This is not right. The Centre is directly involved in the political turmoil,” he said.
Alleging that the legislators were taken by the BJP in a special flight, Mr Kharge said the Congress is still in touch with them. “We will get a clear picture on July 12 when the Assembly session starts,” he said.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah has convened a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing political developments and the Assembly session. In an intimation to Congress MLAs, he warned that their absence would be viewed seriously.
Meanwhile, rebel Congress MLAs, who are staying in Mumbai’s Sofitel Hotel, said on Sunday that their decision to resign from the Karnataka Assembly is final.
“We are 10 MLAs here. A total 13 MLAs have submitted resignation to Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar and governor Vajubhai Bala. We all are together. No question of going back to Bengaluru and withdrawing the resignations,” Karnataka Congress MLA S.T. Somashekhar said while speaking to media persons outside the hotel.
Another disgruntled MLA B.C. Patil endorsed the views of Mr Somashekhar.
“Whatever Mr Somashekhar said is right. As many as 13 MLAs have tendered their resignation. No question of going back and taking back the resignation. We are all together. Our decision is final,” he said.
Before the resignation spree, the Congress and JD(S) together had 118 members in the 224-member state Assembly. The 13 resignations bring its numbers down to 105 and the majority mark in the Assembly from 113 to 106. The BJP too has 105 legislators in the Assembly and the battle for numbers could go down to the wire if a show of strength is held on the floor of the Assembly.
State BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa said the party is watching the political developments after the resignation of over a dozen ruling Congress-JD(S) MLAs, and those in the party are not “ sanyasis” to rule out the possibility of forming the government.
“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,” he said in response to a question whether the BJP is preparing to form the government.