Bengaluru: The ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition received the biggest jolt of its 13-month-long tenure when two Congress MLAs and former ministers —Anand Singh (Vijaya-nagar) and Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak)—announced their resignation from the Legislative Assembly, on Monday.
Though the coalition continues to enjoy a comfortable majority in the state Assembly with 116 MLAs (if the resignations are accepted), there are jitters in the Congress camp with reports doing the rounds that more MLAs, disgusted with the ’non-performance’ of the coalition government and the constant bickering with the JD(S), are planning to following in the footsteps of Jarkiholi and Singh.
It is not clear if the resignations of the two MLAs art part of a bigger and planned effort to eventually reduce the coalition government to a minority and ensure its exit.
The move by these two MLAs triggered angry reactions from both Mr Kumaraswamy and KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao.
While Mr Anand Singh’s resignation letter arrived with riders—scrap the controversial decision to sell 3,667 acres land to JSW Steel in ore-rich Ballari district and carve a separate district out of Vijayanagar, Mr Jarkiholi, who had earlier threatened to quit, sent in his resignation letter by Fax from Mumbai, “voluntarily”, but explained that he advanced his decision by a day in to avoid an inauspicious day (New Moon Day) on Tuesday.
The move by these two MLAs triggered angry reactions from both Mr Kumaraswamy and KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao and accusations that the BJP was attempting to destabilize the government.
“I am observing all the developments in the state from here (USA). The BJP is day dreaming about destabilizing the state government,” remarked Mr Kumaraswamy in a tweet.
Mr Rao told the media: “The BJP is trying to destabilize the government, but there is no threat. It is stable and will complete its term. BJP central leaders are misusing power and agencies to mount pressure and blackmail some MLAs,” soon after his damage-control meetings with deputy chief minister Dr G. Parameshwar, Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar, and CLP leader Mr Siddaramaiah.
Monday's resignations mirror the discontent among Congress legislators a fortnight after expansion of the cabinet with the induction of two independents -R Shankar and H Nagesh - in a move to provide stability to the government and shore up its strength in the Assembly.
Mr Singh, who was involved in fisticuffs with fellow legislators, Bhima Nayak and J.N. Ganesh, during their stay at a resort, a couple of months ago, indicated that he was willing to reconsider his decision to quit the Assembly.
“If the state government decides go against its decision, I may reconsider my decision and I want to make it very clear that I am not resigning as part of any Operation Lotus,” he told the media, after a meeting with Governor Vajubhai Vala, ending speculation that he could return to the BJP. He appealed to the cabinet sub-committee constituted to think about allotment of land to JSW Steel to take a stand against the decision of the cabinet and set an example for other states as well.
“I am not against the industry. The industry must grow, jobs should be generated and youth should get employment. If I don't oppose injustice to my district then it is unbecoming of my being a public representative," he added.
On Mr Jarkiholi's decision to quit, Mr Shivakumar and his sibling and forest minister Satish Jarkiholi said “For the last six months he (Ramesh) has been speaking about it (resigning). There is no need to be surprised about it. There is no use of convincing him (to stay back). It's his personal decision.”
They waited till HDK was away
Sources in the Ramesh Jarkiholi camp feel that the Gokak Congress MLA chose the time when Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy was away in the US to put in his papers. If the CM was in town, he would have immediately called up the Congress central leadership seeking urgent intervention to rein in party MLAs and make sure they did not cross the brink. The sources said Kumaraswamy, in a bid to ensure that his government was secure, would have approached these unhappy MLAs and offered them posts and other facilities. In the past, such a strategy had paid off with the CM able to divide the dissidents and make sure the numbers were in his favour. Now that he is in the US, there is no one to take swift action to protect his government, sources explained. The sources added that more Congress MLAs may resign in three or four days, although unconfirmed reports suggest that both B. Nagendra and J.N. Ganesh had been pacified and would not switch sides.
Jarkiholi, follower or leader of pack?
Hours after Vijayanagar Congress MLA Anand Singh submitted his resignation to Speaker Ramesh Kumar, his party colleague and rebel legislator Ramesh Jarkiholi too sent in his resignation. Speaking to a TV channel, Jarkiholi said, "I have given my resignation today morning, I'm in Mumbai today, I have sent it through fax because Amavasya (new moon day considered inauspicious in Karnataka) begins tomorrow. I will personally give it (to the Speaker) tomorrow morning." Asked about his earlier statement that some other MLAs would also resign with him, he said "Can't reveal our plan. Wait, everything will be clear."
Gundurao livid, warns of Reverse Op Lotus
With two Congress MLAs sending in their resignations to the Assembly Speaker, KPCC President, Dinesh Gundurao warned BJP leaders that the Congress knows how to carry out a 'Reverse Operation Lotus' if the latter does not stop destabilising the ruling coalition. Speaking to reporters just before entering CLP leader, Siddaramaiah's residence where top Congress leaders went into a huddle, Gundurao said: "A few people may have succumbed to pressure but it will not affect the government. We have a majority. If the situation warrants it, we are capable of taking action of various types. Till now, we have refrained from taking any steps," he said angrily.
On Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh's resignation, Mr Rao added, "We don't know why he has resigned." He added that he would speak to Singh and try to convince him....