Congress-JD(S) coalition on edge as two Independent MLAs withdraw support from Karnataka govt; Siddaramaiah slams 'disgraceful' BJP

Two Independent MLAs of the Karnataka government Tuesday withdrew support from the Congress-JD(S) coalition as allegations of poaching legislators were exchanged between the ruling government and Opposition BJP. Their decision comes hours after Congress leader Siddaramaiah questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP workers in the state "destabilising" the government.

According to reports, MLAs H Nagesh and R Shankar withdrew their support claiming "disappointment" and "lack of clarity" in the coalition government. Nagesh said, "There is no understanding between the coalition partners of this government; there is a mismatch in their actions. There is no respect and recognition for MLAs."

"I decided to go with the BJP for the possibility of a stable government and to see that it performs better than this coalition," ANI reported. He added, "After seven months, they have not done anything of significance. People of Karnataka are waiting eagerly for change." The withdrawal leaves the Congress-JD(S) coalition with a majority of only one, with a strength of 118 MLAs.

However, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy dismissed speculation about the stability of the government. He said, "If two MLAs withdraw their support, what will be the numbers? I'm totally relaxed. I know my strength. Whatever is going on in media in the past week, I am enjoying."

Congress-JD(S) coalition on edge as two Independent MLAs withdraw support from Karnataka govt; Siddaramaiah slams disgraceful BJP

File image of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. PTI

Karnataka deputy chief minister G Parmeshwara reiterated the accusations of poaching against the BJP. "We have been saying that the BJP is luring our MLAs with money and power. They are trying to topple this government, but it's not going to be successful, he said. Responding to a question about the Opposition's counter-allegations, Parmeshwara said, "We don't have to do that (poaching). Our government is stable. It's not a numbers game," he said.

India Today reported that Shankar had been dropped in the cabinet reshuffle in December. Several Congress legislators had also been disgruntled about being skipped over during the reshuffle.

'Show your niyat to people'

Siddaramaiah also slammed the prime minister over the slogan of "Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas" (clean intent, right development). He tweeted, "'Mr Saaf Niyat' Narendra Modi, is allowing your disgraceful BJP Karnataka leaders to destabilise the government a 'Saaf Niyat' towards democracy?"

The former chief minister added, "Your PR slogans do not hide your actual 'niyat', and your 'sahi vikas' should go beyond developing resorts. First show your niyat to people." His tweet came a day after the southern state's Minister for Irrigation DK Shivakumar also accused the BJP of poaching.

However, on Tuesday Shivakumar said, "All 104 MLAs are still with the party".

HD Kumaraswamy says coalition has "sufficient numbers"

Amid media reports on Monday that six to eight Congress MLAs were ready to cross over to the BJP and some lawmakers of the ruling coalition having gone incommunicado, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Monday said he has "sufficient numbers" to run a stable government. He asserted there was no question of "instability" in his government.

The BJP on Monday shifted its 104 state legislators to a private resort in Gurugram, adding to the speculation. The BJP legislators went to the national capital for the party national council meeting which ended on Saturday.

As the coalition accused the BJP of offering bribes and other allurements, BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa rubbished reports his party was reattempting 'Operation Lotus' — referring to the BJP's alleged 2008 bid to lure several Opposition MLAs to defect in order to destablise the government headed by Yeddyurappa —  to topple the state government. He said there was no truth in the charge and instead alleged that the Congress-JD(S) combine was trying to woo his party MLAs.

"It is not us, but they (JDS-Congress) have started horse-trading. We will stay in Delhi one or two days because Kumaraswamy is trying his level best to contact our MLAs and horse-trading has started," Yeddyurappa told reporters after meeting state BJP MLAs and MPs in Delhi.

The BJP is "alert and careful" as the chief minister is trying to lure our MLAs using "power and money", he added. "Kumaraswamy is trying to contact BJP MLAs and has offered a ministerial post to a Kalburgi MLA," Yeddyurappa alleged, adding the ruling combine is luring BJP state legislators despite having a majority.

In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress has 79, JDS has 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent have one each, besides the Speaker. BSP, KPJP and an Independent are supporting the coalition. Kumaraswamy said he enjoyed the support of 120 MLAs and alleged that Yeddyurappa was making "futile attempts" to destabilise his government.

"I have sufficient numbers for giving a stable government, it is not necessary for Congress or JD(S) to poach the MLAs from BJP, we have sufficient numbers," he said in Bengaluru. "The coalition government enjoys support of 120 MLAs."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 15, 2019 16:10:59 IST

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