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Karnataka: Disgruntled Congress MLA hints he will reconsider resignation

Initial hope for Congress and JDS after back-channel talks

By PTI in Bangalore
  • Published 13.07.19, 4:14 PM
  • Updated 13.07.19, 4:17 PM
  • 3 mins read
D.K. Shivakumar met Congress MLA M.T.B. Nagaraj this morning and spoke to him for over four hours. PTI file photo

One of the disgruntled Karnataka Congress MLAs, M.T.B. Nagaraj, has hinted that he may consider withdrawing his resignation and said he would try and persuade others.

Nagaraj, who is the state housing minister and Hoskote MLA, is one of the 16 rebel Congress and JD(S) legislators who resigned from the Assembly last week, dealing a blow to the coalition government.

"Siddaramaiah and Dinesh Gundu Rao called me and requested me to withdraw the resignation and stay in the party. I have sought time to mull over it. I told them I will speak to Chikkaballapura MLA Sudhakar and persuade him to withdraw his resignation. We are planning to stay here only," Nagaraj told reporters.

He was flanked by deputy chief minister G. Parameshwara, state water resource minister D.K. Shivakumar and other Congress leaders.

To a query on whether all differences had been sorted out, Nagaraj said he had resigned because of certain "discontentment" and that there was disagreement in every political party. "The party high command is trying to persuade the MLAs. I will also try my best to help them in their effort," he said.

Nagaraj then left for state Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah's residence.

A day after chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy made a surprise announcement in the Assembly that he would seek a trust vote in the House, efforts were intensified by the ruling coalition to reach out to the rebel MLAs.

Congress troubleshooter Shivakumar reached Nagaraj's residence early on Saturday morning and camped there for almost four-and-a-half hours.

Subsequently, Parameshwara reached Nagaraj's house to convince him that he should withdraw his resignation.

A similar attempt was on to persuade MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna, K Sudhakar and R. Roshan Baig.

Sources in the Janata Dal (Secular) said Kumaraswamy was in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators who had resigned and was hopeful that they would withdraw their resignations.

There was some speculation that a group of BJP leaders, led by MLA S.R. Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, also met Ramalinga Reddy at his residence.

Ramalinga Reddy refused to confirm anything, saying he would not speak on politics till July 15 as he had to appear before the Assembly Speaker.

Meanwhile, his daughter and Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy said she had no information about the meeting.

"I am in the Congress and I have not resigned. My father has resigned and all the questions pertaining to his resignation should be asked to him," she said.

In a bid to keep their flock together ahead of the floor test, likely to happen in the coming week, both the Congress and the BJP have shifted their MLAs to hotels and resorts.

Earlier, state BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa said these efforts would not yield any result as the fall of the coalition government was "imminent". "There is confusion in the Congress and the JD(S) because of which the MLAs are fleeing these parties. A systematic conspiracy is going on to bring the MLAs back," the former Karnataka chief minister told reporters in Bangalore. "The atmosphere is chaotic and the fall of the government is imminent," he said.

Claiming that the ruling coalition had lost majority in the Assembly, Yeddyurappa said seeking a vote of confidence was "meaningless".

Kumaraswamy made the announcement about seeking the trust vote after the Supreme Court ordered the Speaker on Friday to maintain status quo on the resignations of the rebel MLAs till July 16.

The coalition government, which has been shaky since its formation last year, following a post-poll arrangement after a hung House, is facing a crisis now with 16 legislators -- 13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) -- resigning from the Assembly.

Besides, two Independent MLAs, who were made ministers recently to provide stability to the government, have quit the cabinet and withdrawn their support to the government.

The ruling coalition's strength in the House is 116 (Congress 78, JD(S) 37 and BSP one), besides the Speaker.

With the support of the two Independents, the Opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House.

If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.

The Speaker has a vote too.