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Efforts to mollify rebel Karnataka Cong MLAs fail

Last updated on: July 14, 2019 20:38 IST

IMAGE: Rebel Karnataka Minister and Congress MLA M T B Nagraj leaves after meeting former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and senior leaders of the party, in Bengaluru, on Saturday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Leaders of the crisis-hit ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition in Karnataka were locked in hectic parleys on Sunday to discuss the future course of action to save the government that is on the brink of collapse, even as efforts to mollify rebel Congress MLA M T B Nagaraj failed.

 

However, the embattled leaders continued with efforts to woo back some legislators who have resigned, especially seven time Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy, ahead of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's trust vote expected this week.

This, even as rebel legislators, who are camped in Mumbai, made it clear that they were united and 'firm' on their resignations.

Meanwhile, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party reiterated that the coalition has lost majority and demanded that Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy resign immediately or seek a trust vote on Monday itself.

The coalition government is on a shaky wicket with 16 MLAs -- 13 of the Congress and three of the JD-S resigning their assembly membership.

Besides, two independent legislators, who were made ministers recently to provide stability, have quit the ministry and withdrawn support.

The coalition leaders received a major jolt on Sunday morning as Nagaraj, with whom they had held day long talks on Saturday in a bid to woo him back to save the government, flew to Mumbai and joined the rebel MLAs camped there.

After reaching Mumbai, Nagaraj, speaking to reporters, made it clear that there was no question of withdrawing his resignation and that he was 'firm' on the decision.

Just ahead of leaving the city, the Hoskote MLA had told reporters that he intended to take a final decision on the withdrawal of his resignation after talks with Chikkaballapura MLA K Sudhakar, as both had together submitted resignations to the Speaker on July 10.

"I'm also trying for it (withdraw). Only thing is that I have to meet Sudhakar, I haven't met him. I will meet him, he should be somewhere," he said, adding 'my intention is that we have to withdraw it (resignation) together'.

After almost day-long negotiations on Saturday, it appeared Congress had made some headway in pacifying Nagaraj, who had hinted he might consider withdrawing his resignation, but had fallen short of making any final announcement.

Visuals of Nagaraj boarding a chartered flight and BJP leader R Ashoka's presence in the vicinity had surfaced on local news channels soon after he spoke to the media,following which senior Congress leaders, including Minister D K Shivakumar had alleged that the saffron party was behind it.

Denying that Ashoka flew with him and that the saffron party's influence was behind his resignation, Nagaraj said, Shivakumar's statements are 'far from the truth'.

As news of Nagaraj boarding a flight to Mumbai surfaced, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy rushed to residence of his father and JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda and held discussions.

Meetings were also on in Congress circles at a hotel, where party legislators have camped under the leadership of Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, who has convened the legislature party meeting on Monday morning.

Later, leaders of both parties, including Kumaraswamy, Minister D K Shivakumar, CLP leader Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Diensh Gundu Rao, Mallikarjun Kharge among others held discussion.

Ahead of the meeting, Kumaraswamy and Shivakumar met Congress MLA Nagendra, undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bengaluru, amid reports that BJP leaders were in touch with him.

In an attempt to pacify MLAs, coalition leaders tried to convince senior legislator Ramalinga Reddy, to withdraw his resignation as they feel that if he does so, three Congress legislators from Bengaluru city, S T Somashekar, Munirathna and Byrathi Basavaraj may also follow suit.

Reddy however did not make any comments and said he would not speak politics until July 15, the day he has been asked by the Speaker to appear before him on his resignation as MLA.

Congress leaders H K Patil and Eshwar Khandre, who met Reddy, said they requested him to withdraw his resignation and continue to lead the party.

Later in the day senior Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, Rao, Shivakumar, Kharge, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal visited Reddy's residence and made attempts to convince him.

Kumaraswamy on Friday had made a surprise announcement in the assembly that he would seek a trust vote.

To win the trust vote, the coalition needs to woo back several of its MLAs who have resigned.

However, amid all these developments, 12 rebel MLAs of the ruling coalition, who are camped in Mumbai, said they were all together and firm on their resignations.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, S T Somashekar, flanked by the other MLAs, said, "We had individually decided to resign. There was no force or influence on us. We are together here."

Stating that Chikkaballapur MLA K Sudhakar, who has resigned, was currently in Delhi and would soon join them, he said they have not decided about their return to Bengaluru.

The MLAs also made it clear that there was no question of them withdrawing their resignations and added that they were not in touch with anyone, nor intended to meet anyone.

Meanwhile, asserting that the coalition government had lost majority, the state BJP Sunday demanded that Kumaraswamy immediately resign or seek a trust vote on Monday itself.

"I demand that the Chief Minister, if he is honest and cares for the democratic system, immediately resign or move a motion, seeking a trust vote on Monday itself," state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa said.

He held discussions with party MLAs, who are put up at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

According to sources, at the Business Advisory Committee meeting on Friday Kumaraswamy had proposed that the trust vote be held on Wednesday.

However, no decision was taken as the principal opposition BJP did not attend the meeting.

BJP's demand that Chief Minister should seek a trust vote immediately is likely to create a uproar in the assembly on Monday, a day prior to the Supreme Court hearing the petition of five rebel MLAs, who have resigned.

The MLAs- Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraj (MTB), Munirathna and Roshan Baig had Saturday sought to be impleaded in the already pending application filed by the 10 other rebel MLAs, on which hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The ruling coalition's total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113.

If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.

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