Karandlaje, Udasi resign from Shettar Ministry; 11 more MLAs ready to quit

Yet another round of political uncertainty has engulfed Karnataka towards the fag end of the Assembly’s term.

Thirteen rebel MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party, including two Ministers owing allegiance to the former Chief Minister and Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) president, B.S. Yeddyurappa, were ready to resign from the Assembly on Wednesday to put the Jagadish Shettar government in a tight spot ahead of the presentation of the State Budget. But their plans went awry, albeit temporarily, when Speaker K.G. Bopaiah suddenly went abroad despite being informed by them of their decision to quit.

Upset at his absence, the 13 MLAs submitted copies of their resignation letters to Governor H. R. Bhardwaj and appealed to him to summon the Speaker to Bangalore immediately to complete the formalities. According to the rules, the MLAs have to submit their resignations to the Speaker in person. Mr. Yeddyurappa, who wants to prevent Mr. Shettar from creating a political constituency for himself by presenting the budget, may have to wait till next week since the Speaker is unlikely to return immediately.

Earlier in the day, Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje and Public Works Minister C.M. Udasi resigned from the Ministry to pave the way for their joining the KJP, submitting their resignations to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.

The BJP, which is trying to ensure the stability of the government at least till February 8 when the budget is to be presented, feels that technically it may not be possible to prevent budget presentation if the resignations are delayed by two or three days as the Opposition parties have to serve 15 days’ notice to table a no-confidence motion.

The numbers game has again assumed importance. The BJP has a strength of 120 (including the Speaker, a nominated member and an Independent who is part of the Ministry) in the 223-member Assembly. The government will be in trouble if more than 15 of its MLAs quit.

According to BJP sources, the party is trying to get in touch with six Independents, including the former Minister B. Sriramulu, to enlist their support if need be.