The Supreme Court’s order, which gives relief to 15 dissident Congress and JD(S) MLAs from participating in the trust motion in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, may have made the collapse of the 14-month-old coalition government imminent.
This will be the third motion on trust vote moved in the Assembly after the fractured mandate in the 2018 elections. The ruling coalition can count on 100 MLAs against the 107 reportedly commanded by the Opposition BJP. The Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy-headed government has seen 13 Congress and 3 JD(S) MLAs submit resignation letters to the Speaker, while two Independents, who quit the Ministry, too have withdrawn support to the government.
The BJP had made at least half a dozen attempts earlier to topple the coalition by luring ruling party MLAs, but this time it seems confident of crossing the finish line.
Ramalinga Reddy, a former Minister and seven-time MLA, who also submitted his resignation, seems to be tilting towards the coalition and has maintained that he is with the Congress. With his inclusion, the coalition will still have just 101 votes, including the Speaker’s. The vote of N. Mahesh, BSP MLA, who had a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S), is uncertain.
The hopes of the government’s survival received a jolt when rebel MLAs, who are in a hotel in Mumbai, rejected reconciliation talks, refusing to even meet Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who has assumed the role of a trouble-shooter for the Congress, in Mumbai last week.
Dissidence has been a feature of the government since the Assembly elections in 2018, with the hastily-stitched post-poll coalition of JD(S) and Congress starting to unravel dramatically after its disastrous performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The coalition partners won just two seats among them, while the BJP made significant inroads into the coalition base with their historic performance.
Induction of two Independents, who had threatened to withdraw support to the coalition, as Cabinet Ministers, only compounded matters for the Congress and JD(S) MLAs who were overlooked for Cabinet berths.
For the Congress, the disarray in the party high command has added to their chaos here. Congress Legislature Party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was reportedly unhappy with the functioning of the government. Even last-ditch efforts to save the coalition by offering the Chief Minister’s post to the Congress was vetoed by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.