Bangalore, Jan. 19: The Congress-led government in Karnataka received time until January 27 to prove its majority in the House as the toppling-game routine began to be played out by quarantining the group of rebel MLAs in a resort.
Chief minister N. Dharam Singh appeared confident in public, suggesting he would prove his majority on that day.
As of this evening, however, there was no reason to believe he would do so as the group of Janata Dal(S) legislators who had withdrawn support to the government moved to the captivity of a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore.
Yesterday, led by Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister and JD(S) national leader H.D. Deve Gowda’s son, they had walked out of the Congress-headed coalition ruling the state for the past 18 months.
Some 42 MLAs were said to be at the resort, and with the support of 76 legislators of the BJP, Kumaraswamy easily clears the majority mark to form the government.
Gowda continued to insist he was behind Dharam Singh, but his stand was taken with much scepticism.
A party leader quoted him as telling the Congress high command: “I will make all possible efforts to find a solution to the ongoing crisis much before chief minister N. Dharam Singh faces a vote of confidence on January 27.”
Former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah, who was expelled from the party by Gowda, accused him of directing and producing the drama starring his son.
“The fact that he has chosen not to take any action against Kumaraswamy or any of the rebels shows he supported the move in every way,” Siddaramaiah said.
Observers believe Gowda has orchestrated the crisis to teach a lesson to the Congress which, he feels, has not treated him with respect.
Numbed by the sudden hammer blow from Gowda, Sonia Gandhi and other central Congress leaders were today trying to reconcile themselves to surrendering Karnataka to the BJP.
The Karnataka rank and file does not want the high command to patch up with the JD(S) rebels. Delhi was still hoping, though, that Gowda would bring the rebels around.
Governor T.N. Chaturvedi’s action in giving Dharam Singh time till January 27 was taken badly by the Kumaraswamy-BJP camp.
Central leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, camping here, accused the Congress of “running away from battle”.
The Congress is postponing its defeat by a week, he said. “Though they may try to employ dirty tricks, they will not succeed.”
Chaturvedi, a BJP member and appointee of the previous Vajpayee government, said he had ordered the floor test keeping the letter and spirit of the Constitution in mind. “I am convinced that this is the only way out,’’ he said.
Chaturvedi said Dharam Singh had asked for time till January 30, but he had declined. The governor said 39 JD(S) MLAs and five Independents had come to him on Wednesday evening with signatures of support. He added that 76 BJP members signed today.