Karnataka turmoil: two trust votes in 10 days

JD(S), Congress leaders discuss possibility of leadership change to save government

Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah held a meeting with legislators at a hotel in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah held a meeting with legislators at a hotel in Bengaluru on Sunday.  

Coalition leaders strategise on delaying the vote on confidence motion scheduled for today

Amid speculation over change of leadership in the JD(S)–Congress coalition government to save it from the brink, JD(S) leaders met coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah on Sunday to discuss the possibility of such a move.

JD(S) Ministers C.S. Puttaraju, G.T. Deve Gowda, and S.R. Mahesh, and party legislator Shivalinge Gowda met the former Chief Minister for nearly an hour to discuss the possibility of him taking charge. Later, they also met Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar and explained the circumstances under which they had put forth the idea to save the coalition from collapsing, especially ahead of the trust vote scheduled for Monday.

Sources said though the issue of change of leadership had been discussed within the JD(S) camp as well as with senior Congress leaders over the last one week after more legislators joined the rebel camp, the offer was a last-ditch attempt to woo back rebels. “At least four rebel legislators are identified as followers of Mr. Siddaramaiah. If he is able to convince them to come back in a scenario where coalition leadership changes, the government could scrape through the trust vote,” sources said.

‘Priority is to save govt.’

Sources, however, said Mr. Siddaramaiah did not commit himself to any leadership change, and told the JD(S) leaders that the priority was to save the coalition government first. Congress sources also confirmed that though the issue came up for discussion, it was decided to focus on saving the government and take up the issue of leadership change later.

JD(S) sources said the Congress central leadership, which was initially wary of the change of guard, had also agreed for the transfer of power in case the coalition survives the trust vote.

Coalition leaders are strategising at delaying the trust vote scheduled for Monday by participating in deliberations on the floor defending the government on the confidence motion. Sources said the leaders were exuding confidence over the Supreme Court restoring the rights of the party to issue whip that could bring the rebel legislators back to Bengaluru.

Congress leaders believe that if the court gives an order in its favour, it could change the political scenario drastically, and that it could leverage on it to bring the rebels across the table.

Sources said the issue also came up during the crucial Congress Legislature Party meeting on Sunday night. “The issue of the Supreme Court decision and the Governor’s alleged interference also came up for discussion. BSP supremo Mayawati’s announcement on supporting the coalition has come as shot in the arm. It was decided to raise scams of the previous BJP government on the floor of Assembly on Monday,” sources added.

Meanwhile, JD(S) MP for Hassan Prajwal Revanna exuded confidence in Bengaluru that rebels would turn up for the session, and that the coalition government would sail through the trust motion.

Mayawati asks Mahesh to back HDK

The move of the lone BSP legislator, N. Mahesh, is now being curiously watched. While he had earlier said he would abstain from the Assembly session as he was yet to get a direction from his party chief, on Sunday evening Ms. Mayawati took to Twitter to announce that Mr. Mahesh would vote in favour of the confidence motion, bringing some relief to beleaguered coalition government. However, Mr. Mahesh could not be contacted for comments.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 9:53:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/jds-congress-leaders-discuss-possibility-of-leadership-change-to-save-government/article28629197.ece

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