With the Karnataka political crisis continuing, coalition leaders on Saturday were locked in hectic parleys to pacify rebel MLAs, as the Bharatiya Janata Party upped the ante and said it would press chief minister H D Kumaraswamy to seek the trust vote on Monday.
A day after Kumaraswamy made a surprise announcement in the assembly that he would seek a trust vote, efforts were intensified to reach out to the dissident legislators.
After almost day-long negotiations, it appeared that Congress had made some headway in pacifying one of its MLAs, M T B Nagaraj, who hinted that he might consider withdrawing his resignation, but fell short of making any final announcement till the evening.
The BJP, however, made it clear that it will press Kumaraswamy to seek the trust vote in the assembly on Monday, a day prior to the Supreme Court hearing the petition of rebel MLAs, who have resigned.
Meanwhile, five more rebel Congress MLAs moved the Supreme Court on Saturday against the Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar not accepting their resignation.
MLAs Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraj (MTB), Munirathna and Roshan Baig have sought impleadment in the already pending application filed by the 10 other rebels MLAs on which the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
The coalition government is on a shaky wicket with 16 MLAs -- 13 of the Congress and three of the Janata Dal-Secular -- resigning their assembly membership. Besides, two independent legislators, who were made ministers recently to provide stability, have quit the ministry and withdrawn support.
The independents H Nagesh and R Shankar, who are now supporting the BJP, have written to the speaker requesting him to allot them seats on the opposition side in the House.
As part of efforts to reach out to dissident MLAs, Congress' "troubleshooter" and minister D K Shivakumar reached Nagaraj's residence early Saturday morning and camped there for almost half-a-day, trying to pacify the Hoskote MLA.
Subsequently, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara among other leaders too reached Nagaraj's house to persuade him to withdraw his resignation.
Nagaraj, who tendered his resignation on July 10, however, kept the Congress leaders on tenterhooks even after day long deliberations with him to rethink his decision.
Earlier in the day, flanked by Congress leaders, he had hinted that he might consider withdrawing his resignation and also said he would try to persuade others.
"Siddaramaiah (CLP leader) and Dinesh Gundu Rao (KPCC chief) called me and requested me to withdraw the resignation and stay in the party. I have sought time to mull over it. I told them I will speak to Chikkaballapura MLA Sudhakar and persuade him to
withdraw his resignation. We are planning to stay here only," Nagaraj told reporters.
Asked if all the differences were sorted out, Nagaraj said he had resigned due to certain "discontentment" and that there was disagreement in every political party.
"The party high-command is trying to persuade the MLAs. I will also try my best to help them in their efforts," he added before leaving for Siddaramaiah's residence with some party leaders.
On coming out from Siddaramaiahs house, Nagaraj said, "Negotiations are going on. He (Siddaramaiah) has spoken good things."
Asked whether he has changed his mind, he said "We all are trying for it only."
Later, Nagaraj returned to Siddaramaiah's residence, where chief minister H D Kumaraswamy joined the negotiations.
Speculation is rife that Chikkaballapura MLA Sudhakar, who too has resigned from the assembly, would join the other rebels staying in a Mumbai hotel.
Congress leadership has also made attempts to persuade other MLAs, sources said, adding Kumaraswamy himself was trying to persuade at least four rebel Congress MLAs to withdraw their resignations.
Trying to throw a spanner in their efforts, a group of BJP leaders, led by MLA S R Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, met seven time Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who has resigned as legislator, at his residence.
Reddy refused to comment on the development, saying he would not speak on politics till July 15 as he had to appear before the assembly speaker, regarding resignation.
However he said he would attend the assembly on Monday.
Meanwhile, his daughter and Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy said she had no information about the meeting.
State BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa made it clear that his party will press Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to seek trust vote in the assembly on Monday.
The former chief minister asserted that the Congress-JD-S coalition government has lost majority and its collapse was imminent.
In a surprise move, Kumaraswamy had on Friday announced in the state assembly that he had voluntarily decided to seek a trust vote to end the "confusion" caused by resignations of rebel MLAs and requested the Speaker to fix time for the same.
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.
Expressing confidence on winning the trust vote, state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed that BJP did not move the no confidence motion as the party was not confident about the numbers.
"The government will survive and will continue under the leadership of Kumaraswamy. We will pass the trust vote, you can wait and see," he added.
In a bid to keep their flock together, both the Congress and the BJP have shifted their MLAs to hotels and resorts. JD-S MLAs have been camping at a resort for the last couple of days.
The ruling coalition's strength in the House is 116 (Congress 78, JD-S 37 and BSP one), besides the speaker.
With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House.
If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.