Bengaluru: With the 15 rebel Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators now camping in Mumbai asserting that they had no plans of returning to Bengaluru to take part in the voting on the crucial confidence motion moved by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in the Legislative Assembly, the prospects of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government winning the trust vote on Monday look pretty bleak.
The coalition has, however, still not given up hope with reports doing the rounds that a Congress CM replacing Mr Kumaraswamy (may-be Congress legislature party leader Siddara-maiah) is the latest idea under consideration to win over the rebels. There are also reports that the government may try to prolong the discussion on the confidence motion, hoping to get some relief from the Supreme Court giving them more time to win back the unrelenting rebel lawmakers.
Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar had on Friday adjourned the trust vote proceedings to Monday after the coalition ignored two deadlines set by Governor Vajubhai Vala to complete the proceedings on Friday itself.
On Sunday, the rebels (many of whom are Siddaramaiah loyalists), while talking to reporters in Mumbai, said they were not bothered even if there was a change of guard in the coalition government (a new CM) and asserted that they would not yield to any amount of pressure as they were united. "We have no plans of coming back to Bengaluru to vote in favour of the confidence motion, nor will we withdraw our resignations which were given to the Speaker last week," they said.
The rebels felt the coalition leaders were trying to create confusion among them by claiming that Mr Siddaramaiah would be the next CM. Even if Mr Siddaramaiah, D.K. Shivakumar (water resources minister) or Mallikarjun Kharge (former Congress MP) become CM, their stand will not change, they added.
The idea of a new CM to resolve the crisis in the coalition was made public by Mr D.K. Shivakumar, who claimed that JD(S) leaders have assured him that they were ready for every possible sacrifice, including a change of incumbent CM H.D. Kumaraswamy and his replacement with a Congress CM. Speaking to reporters, Mr Shivakumar said: "JD(S) leaders are not averse to Mr Kumaraswamy being replaced by Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge, Siddaramaiah, Parameshwar or myself. Hence, we are sure of getting the rebels back into the Congress fold."
On Monday, all eyes will be on the top court as Mr Kumaraswamy and the Congress had moved the court on Friday, accusing the Governor of interfering with the Assembly proceedings when the debate on the trust vote was underway by issuing two deadlines for the trust vote. They also sought clarification on the court's July 17 order, which they said, had prevented the issue of a whip to the legislators. The apex court had ruled that the rebels cannot be compelled to participate in the Assembly proceedings.
Meanwhile, state BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa is confident that Monday will be the last day of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. "As (senior Congress leader) Siddaramaiah, the Speaker and CM H.D. Kumaraswamy have said that the trust vote proceedings will be over on Monday, I am 100 per cent confident things will reach a conclusion," he told reporters. Yeddyurappa alleged that the coalition was unnecessarily buying time despite knowing the whip issued to the rebel MLAs was of no use. "The SC has said that under no circumstances should the 15 MLAs staying in Mumbai be compelled to attend the assembly session," the former CM recalled.
After the 15 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs quit from the Assembly and the two Independents withdrew support, the coalition's numbers have come down to 101 (excluding the Speaker) as compared to the 107 MLAs the BJP has (including the two Independents).
One more Congress MLA from Kagawad, Shrimant Patil, who mysteriously disappeared from a resort in Bengaluru to land at a hospital in Mumbai, is also likely to skip the trust vote proceedings, sources said.
Mayawati asks her MLA to back coalition
Amid reports that BSP MLA N Mahesh will not be attending the crucial floor test in the state assembly on Monday, party supremo Mayawati has asked her lone legislator in Karnataka to vote in favour of the H.D. Kumaraswamy led government. Earlier in the day, Mahesh told reporters that his high command had asked him to abstain from voting on the trust motion which would have depleted the ruling coalition's numbers further. "BSP national chief Mayawatiji has directed its MLA to vote in support of the H.D. Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka," a tweet on the official handle of Mayawati reads.