2 Independent MLAs withdraw support to Karnataka govt amid poaching buzz

Karnataka has been abuzz with allegations of horse-trading that were triggered after three Karnataka Congress MLAs visited Mumbai on Monday, reportedly along with some BJP MLAs.

Updated: Jan 15, 2019 15:59:53

By Vikram Gopal

Two Independent MLAs have pulled out of the HD Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka but their exit does not immediately impact the stability of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Two Independent MLAs on Tuesday withdrew support to JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka amid charges of poaching by both the opposition BJP and the ruling combine.

One of the two, R Shankar had been dropped from HD Kumaraswamy’s cabinet last month. He represents Ranebennur constituency in Haveri district. The second, H Nagesh is a legislator from Kolar district’s Mulbagal seat.

They announced their decision to pull out of the ruling coalition at a press conference in Mumbai and released letters to the Governor.

“I worked as a minister for 6-7 months thanks to the blessings of my constituents. But I wanted to do more work and since I did not get the government’s backing I am taking back my support to the government,” Shankar said.

Responding to the development, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara said he would not comment on the two independent MLAs, but confirmed that the BJP was also in touch five Congress MLAs.

“They won as independents and want to remain as such. They have even said they will support the BJP. That is their wish and we cannot comment on that. But one thing is true, the BJP is trying very hard to destabilise this government, and they have even got some Congress MLAs to go to Mumbai. The whole country is watching what is happening,” he said.

With the exit of the two independent MLAs, the numbers for the coalition government reduced to 118 — 80 MLAs of the Congress, 37 of the JD(S) and 1 MLA from the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party after the state assembly elections in May by winning 104 seats, is still 7 MLAs short of the majority mark of 113.

The state has been abuzz with allegations of horse-trading that were triggered after some Karnataka Congress MLAs visited Mumbai on Monday, reportedly along with some BJP MLAs.

This was followed by the Congress alleging that the BJP was trying to poach the ruling party’s MLAs to destabilise the JD(S)-Congress alliance government in the state. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has played down the danger to his government and at one point, suggested that some BJP legislators were also in touch with him.

In television interviews, BS Yeddyurappa had pointed to these remarks when the BJP sequestered its 104 MLAs to a resort in Gurugram on the outskirts of national capital Delhi. They have not been allowed to come back home to the southern state to celebrate the state’s harvest festival Sankranti.

Earlier in the day Congress MLA Anand Singh, who was rumoured to have been one of the Congress leaders the BJP was looking to poach, met irrigation minister DK Shivakumar at his residence in the city.

Addressing the press, Singh said he had not been contacted by any BJP leaders and that he would remain loyal to the Congress. “All the MLAs are in touch with us, they will not go anywhere,” Shivakumar told reporters.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders have gathered at the Kumar Krupa Guest House here and are holding a meeting on the issue with KC Venugopal, AICC general secretary in charge of the state. Among those present at the meeting are former chief minister and Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah, state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao, and home minister MB Patil.

The JDS and Congress had fought a bitter contest during the elections in May 2018, but had come together after the election results threw up a hung assembly with no party winning a clear majority.

First Published: Jan 15, 2019 15:37:28


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