'Natak in Karnataka': All that we know so far about the Karnataka crisis

The Congress-JDS coalition government is on the verge of collapse. This happened after 13 MLAs submitted their resignation to the Speaker’s office. But, the Speaker is yet to accept these resignations.

The 13-month old Congress-JD(S) government slumped into crisis following the resignation of 10 MLAs from the membership of the state Assembly last week. Congress' Roshan Baig and independent H Nagesh have also deserted the HD Kumaraswamy government. The Congress has been accusing the BJP of conspiring to topple the coalition government in Karnataka. The ruling alliance is making all efforts to protect its government which seems to have fallen short of a majority.

The state Assembly has 225 members, including one nominated MLA. The halfway mark in the 225-member Assembly is 113. The ruling coalition has 118 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly. If the resignations are accepted, the coalition’s tally would reduce to 105, one short of the fresh majority mark of 106. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 105 MLAs in the House.

Here's what we know so far:

What happened?

All 30 ministers of the Karnataka government quit on Monday to give a free hand to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to reshuffle his Cabinet to include rebel MLAs. One of the two, H Nagesh flew to Mumbai to join the group of rebel MLAs.

Two Independent legislators also withdrew their support on Monday adding to the 13 others who had already resigned on July 6.

Of the 13, 12 (nine Congress legislators and three from the JD(S)) put in their papers on July 6. They also met Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan. Another Congress MLA, Anand Singh, had submitted his resignation on July 1.

In a fresh jolt to the wobbly Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka, two Congress legislators, Housing minister M T B Nagaraj and K Sudhakar, tendered their resignations on July 10 to the Speaker, taking the number of disgruntled MLAs who have quit to 16.

What happened next?

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara accused Governor Vajubhai Vala of encouraging horse trading following a flurry of resignations by Congress and JD(S) legislators threatening the existence of the coalition government in the state.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conspiring to topple Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka. Responding to the charge by Chowdhury, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said BJP has nothing to do with the political crisis in the state, it’s an internal matter of the Congress. Rajnath Singh added his party did not believe in the politics of horse-trading or inducements. "Whatever is happening in Karnataka, our party has nothing to do with it. Our party is fully committed to the dignity of parliamentary democracy," he said.

The differences

The Congress is still trying to work out a solution to save its government in Karnataka as differences between senior party leader Siddaramaiah and Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy have widened on who will lead the coalition in the southern state.

Most of the Congress rebels are Siddaramaiah loyalists, but Kumaraswamy has put his foot down, and is said to be against making him the Chief Minister. Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, a key negotiator, Ahmad Patel, Deepender Hooda, Motilal Vora, P. Chidambaram, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Jitendra Singh, Mukul Wasnik and others held a long meeting in the national capital on July 8 to work out a compromise formula.

Siddaramaiah as CM?

There were also reports that Siddaramaiah may be considered for Chief Minister if the JD(S) agrees. JD(S) leader and Minister GT Devegowda was quoted by PTI as saying, "If the coordination committee decides Siddaramaiah should be the CM, we have no objection...so be it."

Coalition's total strength?

The JD(S)-Congress coalition's total strength after the 2 latest withdrawals is 116 besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 103. The Speaker also has a vote.

High Drama

High drama was witnessed on July 10 at the Vidhana Soudha, the Karnataka Secretariat, as a Congress MLA who resigned his assembly membership was allegedly manhandled and later "held up" in a room where embattled party leaders tried to convince him not to quit. The more than an hour long tension-filled drama that also saw BJP leaders and legislators protesting demanding 'release' of Chikkaballapur MLA K Sudhakar ended with police escorting him to the Raj Bhavan after Governor Vajubhai Vala reportedly intervened.

Karnataka minister D K Shivakumar was taken into custody by Mumbai Police outside the luxury hotel where rebel MLAs from his state are lodged. Former Union minister Milind Deora and former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan, who had arrived to meet Shivakumar, were also detained, an official said. Shivakumar was almost pulled out by police while he was being interviewed by a TV channel. They were later released. Shivakumar, the Congress' troubleshooter, had been camping outside the Renaissance Hotel in Powai, determined to meet the rebel MLAs in a desperate bid to pull the Congress-JD(S) government from the brink of collapse.

Supreme Court directs 10 rebel Karnataka MLAs to appear before Speaker

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the 10 rebel MLAs of Karnataka to appear before Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in the evening (July 11) for which they will be provided with police protection when they land in Bengaluru from Mumbai.

‘Not sanyasis’

BJP state unit chief and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said the party was monitoring the developments and that 'they were not sanyasis to rule out the possibility of forming the government'.

Ruling out the possibility of any mid-term polls, he said, "It has been just 13 months after the assembly election. We will not allow elections to happen.” "Let them (Congress-JDS) provide a strong administration. If they can't, we are there with a strength of 105 MLAs...we will not meet the Governor or go to Delhi for now. We are watching the developments," he added.

Kumaraswamy's resignation

As the political turmoil disrupted proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the third day amid uproar by opposition Congress members, the Karnataka unit of BJP demonstrated outside the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru to press for Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's resignation claiming his government has lost majority.

With his government fighting for survival following the resignation of 16 Congress-JD(S) MLAs, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy sought to know on Thursday why should he step down from the post. "Why should I resign? What is the necessity for me to resign now?," Kumaraswamy shot back.

How can the government fall?

The Karnataka government has two options before it. CM HD Kumaraswamy could resign suo moto upon realising that he does not have the numbers. Secondly, the Governor of the state, Vijubhai Vala, could ask the government to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly in a potential trust vote.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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