Bengaluru: With MLAs H. Nagesh from Mulabagilu and Karnataka Prajnavanta Janata Paksha member and former minister R. Shankar from Ranebennur's shock decision to withdraw support from the coalition government, the rebel group led by Gokak MLA, Ramesh Jarkiholi drew first blood in the battle of destabilising the coalition government.
Mr Shankar and Mr Nagesh both sent their letters to Governor Vajubhai Vala intimating him of their decision to withdraw support from the coalition government. Both also issued a statement from Mumbai where they had been holed up in a five star hotel with Mr Jarkiholi, stating that they would prefer a BJP government over the coalition government which failed to give good governance in Karnataka.
Citing lack of funds from the government for their constituencies and their recommendations on transfer of officials being ignored as the reason for withdrawing support from the coalition government, the Ramesh Jarkiholi group which is camping in Mumbai sent a signal to the coalition government that this time, they were set on destabilising the government.
Sources indicate that Ramesh Jarkiholi may have reached out to 14 MLAs, of whom nine are in Mumbai. Sensing that the power rests in the hands of Speaker Ramesh Kumar, who may refuse to accept their resignations, sources close to Jarkiholi also said they have begun consulting legal advisors on how to make their plan a success.
Jarkiholi has reportedly promised the BJP top brass that they would complete the operation to pull down the government before Jan. 23, with the BJP leadership reportedly eliciting the promise that if they failed to bring in a BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa, they would drop the plan to bring down the coalition government and focus all their energies on delivering 20 seats for the Parliament elections.
Eight to go first, six to follow?
Sources said that 8 MLAs may resign in the first stage to precipitate the crisis. Apart from Mr Nagesh and Mr Shankar, the other six include, Umesh Jadhav, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Nagendra, Mahesh Kumathalli, J. Ganesh, Bheema Naik. Sources said these six may resign in the next couple of days. The sources claimed that the group have another six legislators with them who would quit in due course.
At what stage can BJP form a government after dislodging the coalition? In a House of 224 (excluding the Speaker), the BJP has 104 MLAs. With the support of two independents, the BJP's tally goes up to 106. So, If more Congress MLAs resign, the House strength will go down as will the simple majority.
No less than 13 Congress members must resign from the Congress party for the coalition to be on shaky ground. The Congress and JD (S) will have a majority until the House strength drops to 211. If 13 resign and the House strength drops to 211, BJP with the support of two independents, will get a simple majority in the House (106).
Cong ploy: House to be dissolved?
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity that the Congress leaders were still only examining the proposal to dissolve the house."This is only an exigency measure. This prevents the BJP which is trying to ensure the House is kept in suspended animation or to form a government on its own. The coalition partners do not want either of this to happen. Therefore, the Congress is still trying to bring both JD(S) patriarch, H.D. Deve Gowda and Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy on board on this issue," the source said.
Speaker Ramesh key to save govt
Apart from mulling dissolving assembly, the Congress party is also examining other possibilities to checkmate the BJP's move such as disqualifying rebel MLAs or delaying accepting resignations of MLAs using speaker's office.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader said, "Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar being a very astute politician knows how to handle these kind of issues. We have already seen examples set by Lok Sabha speaker, Sumitra Mahajan who deferred the decision of accepting YSR Congress MPs' resignations by at least six months last year itself, while it is better to speak less about former speaker K.G. Bopaiah, who was the perhaps first Speaker to disqualify MLAs in the state. These are shining examples how the speaker offices time and again used his powers for the benefit of the ruling party."