Karnataka coalition allies try to pacify rebels, save government

In a desperate attempt to save their year-old coalition government from the brink, the ruling Congress and Janata-Dal-Secular (JD-S) allies held parleys on Sunday to pacify their dozen rebel legislators and make them withdraw their resignations, an official said on Sunday.

But all attempts by leaders of the allies to contact the rebel MLAs for any reconciliation failed to yield results as 10 of the rebel MLAs flew to Mumbai on Saturday evening and have since gone incommunicado.

“Senior leaders in both the parties held talks separately and jointly on making the rebels withdraw their resignations by addressing their concerns,” allies’ spokesman Ramesh Babu told IANS here.

Party’s state in-charge K.C. Venugopal discussed the brewing crisis with Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, state working President Eshwar Khandre and senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge at a star hotel in the city centre.

Party’s senior leader and state Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar held discussions with JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, its state president K.K. Kumaraswamy and state PWD Minister H.D. Revanna at Gowda’s residence in the city’s southern suburb.

“Venugopal spoke to senior rebel legislator Ramalinga Reddy, assured him to address his concerns and advised him to withdraw his resignation. Reddy was also told to contact the other rebels and convince them to withdraw their resignations,” Babu said.

Nine Congress and three JD-S lawmakers submitted their resignations to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Saturday, expressing lack of confidence in the coalition government’s leadership.

The nine Congress rebel MLAs are Pratapgauda Patil (Maski), B.C. Patil (Hirekerur), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Shivram Hebbar (Yellapur) Mahesh Kumatahalli (Athani), Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout), S.T Somashekar (Yeshvantpur), Munirathna (RR Nagar) and S.N. Subba Reddy (KGF in Kolar).

The three rebel JD-S MLAs are A.H. Vishwanath (Hunsur), N. Narayana Gowda (K.R. Pete) and Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout).

Congress lawmaker Ananda Singh (Vijayanagara) had resigned on July 1, taking the tally of rebel MLAs to 10.

Of the Congress rebels, Somashekar and Munirathna, loyalists of Siddaramaiah, want the latter to be made chief minister again. Both were ministers in the previous Congress government, Siddaramaiah headed from 2013 to 2018.

The Speaker told reporters that he would look into the resignations of the rebel legislators on Tuesday, ahead of the 10-day Monsoon session of the state legislature from July 12. The rebels have sought also an appointment with him on the same day to explain their reasons for quitting.

“A circular has been sent to their mobiles and e-mail accounts to attend the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting at Vidhna Soudha (state secretariat) in the city centre on Tuesday. They have also been asked to raise their issues at the meeting to resolve the crisis,” party spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS.

To continue the coalition government, the allies are also planning to reshuffle the 34-member Cabinet ministry to accomodate some of the rebels by asking a few of the ministers to step down.

Emerging out of the meetings, Kharge told reporters that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was behind the revolt by the MLAs, as it was desperate to return to power even though it lacked majority in the Assembly.

“Intoxicated with power from its recent victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP high command is intimidating our legislators and forcing them to resign by offering money and Cabinet posts,” alleged Kharge.

Kharge also claimed that the rebels flew to Mumbai in a chartered aircraft owned by Rajiv Chandrashekhar, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member from the state.

“BJP’s Maharashtra leader Prasad Lad met the rebels in the hotel they are staying in Mumbai. If the BJP has nothing to do with them and their resignations, why it is taking so much care of them. What more evidence you want of its brazen role in poaching our MLAs?” thundered Kharge.


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