Karnataka government crisis deepens, echoes in Parliament (Evening Lead)
The crisis in the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led government in Karnataka deepened further on Tuesday with one more Congress MLA resigning, taking to 17 the number of legislators of the ruling Congress-JD-S combine who have quit over the last few days.
Meanwhile, the 11 rebel Congress MLAs, who resigned from their Assembly seats three days back, on Tuesday skipped the party's legislature meeting in Bengaluru, which was attended only by 60 of the 78 party MLAs.
The political crisis in Karnataka resonated in Parliament as well on Tuesday, with the Congress accusing the BJP of destabilizing its government in the southern state. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh rejected the charge, saying the Congress was unable to handle its internal problems.
If the resignations of all the 12 MLAs of the Congress, three of the JD-S, one of regional party KPJP and an Independent are accepted by Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, the ruling coalition's number in the 225-member House will drop from 118 to 101, 12 short of the majority mark.
The Speaker on Tuesday asked all the MLAs who have resigned to meet him personally to clarify on their resignation letters, saying some of those were not in proper format.
The Speaker's directive came hours after suspended Congress legislator R. Roshan Baig resigned from the Shivajinagar Assembly seat, submitting his resignation letter to the Speaker in his office.
Later, the Speaker declined to accept the resignations of the 13 Congress-JD-S rebel legislators, as 8 were not in the prescribed format and 5 needed explanations to ensure they were in accordance with the law.
"I have summoned all the legislators of both the parties to meet me on July 12, July 15 and July 21, as their resignations are faulty and explanations are not in accordance with the law under section 202 of the Anti-Defection Act," said Kumar.
With Baig quitting, the number of Congress lawmakers who have resigned from their respective Assembly seats has gone up to 12. Three JD-S MLAs also resigned.
Besides them, one legislator of KPJP and an Independent, have also quit as ministers and withdrawn their support to the Kumaraswamy government.
Baig, 67, an eight-time lawmaker from Shivajinagar, was suspended from the party on June 19 for his attack on the party's state in-charge K.C. Venugopal, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah and state unit President Dinesh Gundu Rao for the party's rout in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress, which contested the Lok Sabha polls in pre-poll alliance with its coalition partner JD-S, won only one of the 21 seats it contested. The JD-S also managed to win only one seat.
The opposition BJP swept the polls, bagging 25 of the 27 seats in the state.
Commenting the day after on the May 19 exit polls that projected Congress performing poorly in the general elections, Baig lashed out at Venugopal, Siddaramaiah and Rao.
"Venugopal is a buffoon. What does he know about the party in our state, as he is from Kerala? Due to Siddaramaiah's arrogance, the party lost in the May 2018 Assembly elections and Rao's immaturity is responsible for the dismal state of affairs currently," Baig had told reporters here.
He has been sulking against the party leadership since last year for being denied a cabinet post, despite being the Muslim face of the party after the passing away of veteran party leader Jaffer Shariff in November.
Earlier, 10 of the Congress MLAs flew to Mumbai on July 6 after submitting their resignations to the secretary of the Speaker in his absence and meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan.
The Congress, which is making desperate attempts to save the government, had convened a meeting of the legislators on Tuesday in Bengaluru but none of the rebel MLAs turned up for it, despite being given a notice on July 7 to be present, party spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS.
Of the party's 78 legislators, Gowda said about 60 attended the meeting while five to six had informed CLP leader Siddaramaiah in advance of their inability to attend.
In Delhi, the Congress members created uproar in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, accusing the BJP of being behind the rebellion in the ruling coalition in Karnataka to topple it.
The Congress members disrupted the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, preventing it from functioning and forcing its adjournment for the day.
In the Lok Sabha, the Congress members, joined by the members of the DMK, NCP and National Conference, staged a walkout.
Prior to that, Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the BJP was indulging in "poaching politics".
"The Opposition has a major role in taking forward the country... We will raise the issue. It is the government's prerogative to take the decision. We are doing our job. Poaching politics should be stopped," Chowdhury said. IANS