Karnataka Minister, MLA Submit Resignations To Assembly Speaker
In a fresh jolt to the wobbly Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka, two Congress legislators, Housing minister MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar, tendered their resignations on Wednesday to the Speaker, taking the number of disgruntled MLAs who have quit to 16.
The development comes even as DK Shivakumar, state water resources minister, the Congress' troubleshooter, was detained and sent packing back to Bengaluru from Mumbai, where he was prevented by police from meeting the rebel MLAs. The coalition faces the threat of losing majority in the Assembly if the resignations are accepted as its current tally is 116 in the 224-member House.
Nagaraj and Sudhakar submitted their resignations to Speaker Ramesh Kumar at his chamber in Vidhana Soudha, the State secretariat. In the midst of these developments, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has convened a cabinet meeting at 11 am Thursday. Confirming the resignations, Kumar told reporters, "Yes, Sudhakar and MTB Nagaraj have resigned.
Soon after submitting his resignation Nagaraj went and met Governor Vajubhai Vala, informing him about his decision. On the other hand, high drama prevailed when Sudhakar came out of the Speaker's office after tendering his resignation. Angry Congress leaders, including social welfare minister Priyank Kharge surrounded him, demanding that he withdraw his resignation, but he did not relent.
BJP workers staged a demonstration outside the secretariat, demanding that Sudhakar be allowed to leave and entered into an altercation with congress leaders. Later, Sudhakar was escorted to the Raj Bhavan with full police protection. After meeting the governor, Sudhakar said, he and Nagraj have resigned "voluntarily" and with "full conscience."
Stating that they have requested Speaker to accept the resignation, he said, "Speaker has given us time on July 17 to appear before him for further process." According to reports, Sudhakar was escorted to Raj Bhavan after the governor directed police commissioner Alok Kumar to present the MLA before him at the earliest.
After putting in his papers, Nagaraj said he was "fed up" with politics and wished to retire from public life. "I don't want any ministerial position or anything. I am fed up with politics," Nagaraj told reporters. The two join the list of 14 Congress and JDS MLAs who have submitted their letters to resign from the assembly over the last week.
Nagaraj represents Hoskote in the assembly while Sudhakar Chikballapur. Former chief minister Siddaramaiah too came to the Vidhana Soudha to persuade Sudhakar to withdraw his resignation and had a discussion with him inside the chamber of the minister for large and medium industries K J George. Just then, BJP MLAs Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, S R Vishwanath, M P Renukacharya and V Somanna too reached there and staged a demonstration against the alleged hooliganism of Congress workers.
They demanded that Sudhakar be immediately freed from the clutches of Congress leaders. Tension prevailed as the BJP and Congress leaders resorted to sloganeering against each other. Senior police officers, including Bengaluru police commissioner Alok Kumar, along with police personnel, rushed to the Vidhana Soudha to bring the situation under control.
Police chased away a few media personnel standing outside the secretariat. Some cameramen complained that they were beaten up and their equipment was broken. When the demonstration was taking place, an altercation broke out inside the secretariat between Honnalli BJP MLA M P Renukacharya and urban development minister U T Khader when the latter reached there to hold talks with Sudhakar.
Alleging that Congress leaders were not allowing Sudhakar to leave, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said "We all have seen how Sudhakar was pushed and shoved. Nagaraj has met the governor while Sudhakar was not allowed to go out. He has been confined in a room. This is goondaism."
Yeddyurappa also petitioned Vala that the speaker was not expediting the process of accepting the resignation of 16 MLAs who resigned since July 6. Seeking Vala's intervention, Yeddyurappa said in his letter, "Instead of accepting the resignations, I would regret to say, the speaker is allowing the ruling party to continue in power and threatening the resigned MLAs. Even ministers of the ruling government are visiting their premises and threatening them for their act (resigning)."
Hitting out at the BJP, Siddaramaiah said, "Sudhakar is our MLA. Our leaders were talking to him. What relation BJP has with Sudhakar? He is not a BJP MLA or worker.As long as his resignation is not accepted, he continues to be the member of the Congress party. As a CLP leader I was talking to him. What made BJP create a ruckus like that. To do rowdyism? BJP MLAs and workers are rowdies. They have taken law into their hands. I condemn it."
As the political crisis in Karnataka continued to be played out in Mumbai, Congress leader Milind Deora, who was also detained along with Shivakumar, claimed Mumbai police were "forcibly deporting" the minister to Bengaluru.
Shivakumar, who came to Mumbai to meet rebel Congress MLAs from Karnataka, was detained along with Deora and former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan. They were taken to a guest house in Kalina and released after a while.
Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap said Shivakumar was taken to Mumbai airport by Mumbai police. Of the 16 MLAs who have resigned, 13 are from Congress and three from JD(S). The coalition's total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker.
With the support of the two independents, who Monday resigned from the ministry, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.