Karnataka turmoil: two trust votes in 10 days

A weekend of impatient waiting for Congress–JD(S) combine, BJP

Having a word: Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah with party legislators at a star hotel in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Having a word: Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah with party legislators at a star hotel in Bengaluru on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

Coalition making efforts to salvage situation; BJP guarding its MLAs and rebels

While the coalition government’s days appear to be numbered with the trust vote slated for Monday, the weekend saw hectic discussions between Congress and JD(S) leaders in the last-ditch effort to salvage the situation. Meanwhile, the BJP camp kept strict vigil on its own legislators and the rebel MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) who are stationed in Mumbai.

The coalition leaders harbour some hope that the Supreme Court might modify its judgment. The proceedings in the Lower House on Monday are expected to begin after the hearing on the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee’s petition on the court order that says the 15 rebel MLA cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing Assembly proceedings.

The Congress has argued in its petition that the court order compromises with the party’s right to issue whip.

On Saturday, leaders of the ruling parties continued their efforts to bring back at least a few rebel MLAs stationed in Mumbai. However, their efforts seems to have not yielded results as the rebels continued to shut the doors for any talks.

Ramalinga Reddy’s role

Congress MLA Ramalinga Reddy, who has withdrawn his resignation from the Assembly, called on JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda at the latter’s residence and held discussions. Though Mr. Reddy termed it a “courtesy call”, sources indicated that Mr. Gowda told Mr. Reddy to use his political clout to bring back a few MLAs to ensure the survival of the government.

After Mr. Reddy returned to the partyfold, a section of the Congress leaders believe that a couple of MLAs such as K. Sudhakar and N. Nagaraju (MTB) could return to the city and would attend the Assembly session. However, so far, there was no positive response from Congress rebels, said sources.

The coalition government received a jolt after Congress legislators Shrimant B. Patil (Kagwad) and B. Nagendra (Ballari Rural) got admitted to hospitals. With this, the strength of the ruling combine in the House reduced further to 99 against the BJP’s 106.

Of the two Independents, sources said, only H. Nagesh would attend the session and support the BJP. R. Shankar, another Independent, is likely to skip the session. N. Mahesh, BSP MLA, too is likely to skip the session.

Guarding the flock

In the BJP camp, the task of the strategists is cut out — to ensure the rebels do not dither. “We have to wait. There is no other way,” said a senior BJP leader. Sources said “adequate arrangements” have been made to ensure coalition leaders are unable to personally meet the rebel MLAs.

Sources said a BJP strategist involved in the “operation” had already reached Mumbai. “The coalition needs the support of nine rebel MLAs to save the government. While a couple of MLAs may be vulnerable to return, it is highly unlikely that nine MLAs will join the coalition to gather the required numbers,” a party leader said.

Rebel JD(S) MLA A.H. Vishwanath told news channels on Saturday that all the 12 rebel MLAs in Mumbai were resolute in their decision and would not return to the coalition. He also denied reports of rifts within the rebel camp.

BJP strategist are only worried that “the situation might change depending on the Supreme Court ruling on Monday.”

A leader said they were ready with a “plan B”. “There are more MLAs in the Congress ready to switch sides, who may abstain from the trust vote,” he claimed.

At least three more Congress MLAs are in touch with us ready to jump ship. If some of the rebels are wooed back, more MLAs are likely to abstain,” the leader claimed. The threat of more MLAs likely to abstain would keep the rebel MLAs in check, the leader added.

CLP meeting

The Congress is scheduled to hold its legislature party meeting on Sunday evening, attended by AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka K.C. Venugopal and other leaders, to work out a strategy for Monday.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:53:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-weekend-of-impatient-waiting-for-congressjds-combine-bjp/article28622273.ece

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