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JD-S-Congress Karnataka government on verge of collapse

The JD-S-Congress government in Karnataka was on the verge of a collapse on Monday, with a lone legislator from a regional party and an Independent MLA withdrawing their support to the ruling coalition, which has already been hit by the resignations by over a dozen MLAs of the two parties.

R. Shankar, leader of regional outfit KPJP, resigned as Karnataka Municipal Administration Minister and H. Nagesh, an Independent MLA, quit as Minister for Small Scale Industries.

Both of them also withdrew their crucial support to the ruling coalition headed by JD-S leader H.D. Kumaraswamy, even as it made desperate attempts to save their 13-month-old government.

As part of the effort, the JD-S and the Congress asked all their ministers to resign to pave the way for reconstitution of the Cabinet to accommodate the disgruntled and rebel MLAs. Accordingly, all the 22 Congress ministers and nine JD-S ministers submitted their resignations.

The developments followed resignation by 10 MLAs of the Congress and three of the JD-S from the Assembly two days back, expressing lack of confidence in the government.

Most of the Congress MLAs, after submitting their resignations on Saturday last, left Karnataka and parked themselves in a hotel in Mumbai. They planned to return to Bengaluru on Tuesday to meet the Speaker and press for their resignations, sources said.

Before the resignations, the ruling coalition had 118 MLAs, five more than the required majority mark of 113 in the 225-member Assembly.

They included 78 MLAs of the Congress (excluding the Speaker), 37 of the JD-S, one each from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and regional outfit Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party (KPJP) and an Independent.

“I have this day, tendered my resignation from the council of ministers, headed by (Chief Minister) H.D. Kumaraswamy,” said Nagesh, an Independent MLA from the Mulbagal (SC) Assembly constituency, in a letter to Governor Vajubhai Vala earlier in the day.

Nagesh, who handed over the letter to Vala at the Raj Bhavan, also mentioned that he was withdrawing his support to the government.

“I would by this letter, inform your good self that I withdraw my support to the government, headed by Kumaraswamy,” he wrote.

In the evening, Shankar also resigned and said he would extend support to the BJP, which has 105 MLA in the Assembly, eight short of the majority.

“Minister for Municipal Administration R. Shankar met Governor Vajubhai Vala after submitting his resignation letter to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy,” said a communique from Raj Bhavan here.

“He (Shankar) onwards extends the support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” the communique added.

Shankar, the legislator from Ranebennur, floated the KPJP and contested the May 2018 assembly elections after leaving the Congress for being denied the party ticket.

Kumaraswamy had inducted Shankar and Nagesh into the cabinet on June 14 to ensure their support to his shaky government facing revolt from a dozen Congress rebel legislators since December.

Both had withdrawn support to the coalition government on January 15, after Shankar was dropped from the ministry on December 22 in a minor cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion to ensure the government’s stability.

These developments came just ahead of the Monsoon session of the state Assembly from July 12.

The Congress and the JD-S, which were making desperate attempts to save the government, blamed the Opposition BJP for the unrest in the ruling coalition.

“BJP’s national leaders are behind this political crisis in the state. They do not want any government or any opposition party to rule in any state. They are destroying democracy,” Congress MLA D.K. Suresh told reporters.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in New Delhi were quick to retort. “The BJP has nothing to do with the political crisis in Karnataka,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament.

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