Speaker gives lifeline to JD(S) coalition

Bengaluru: With one more Congress wicket down on Tuesday, the political imbroglio in Karnataka landed on a murky pitch with the Congress accusing the BJP of ''kidnapping'' their MLAs at gunpoint and Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar rejecting the resignation of eight of the MLAs on technical grounds.As the drama started unfolding in the morning, Congress senior leader and MLA Roshan Baig resigned, sending the Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress alliance into further tailspin. But the highlight of the day was how Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar ducked and dodged to give a lifeline to the coalition.

First, he rejected the resignation of eight MLAs on technical grounds and then asked five MLAs, whose resignation letters were in order, to meet him on Friday and Monday.As the news trickled in, senior BJP leaders rushed to the Speaker's office only to find it empty. But the catch is that the Assembly session begins on Friday and it is anybody's guess if the MLAs would attend the House which is expected to witness pandemonium.

With the Speaker adopting a delaying tactic, senior BJP leaders have decided to meet Governor Vajubhai Valla on Wednesday and seek his intervention. The party has also decided to launch pro-tests across the state. As the Congress accused the BJP of abducting their MLAs, Congress rebel lawmaker BC Patil said that the legislators who had tendered resignations did not flee to Goa or Pune. “All these are false rumours and we came to Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai yesterday night,” he said. Patil also denied getting any offers from the BJP and said all such claims are “completely wrong”.

Earlier, Patil's resignation was rejected by the Karnataka Speaker. A miffed Patil said he and seven other MLAs whose resignations were rejected would directly confront the Speaker on Wednesday and once again submit their resignations. The Speaker also said he was examining the letter of suspended Congress MLA Roshan Baig whose resignation reduced the coalition numbers in the state assembly to 103, as against the BJP's 105. Two Independents who withdrew support for the coalition on Monday are expected to support the BJP after they joined a rebel group in Mumbai on Monday. Meanwhile, Congress leader Zameer Ahmad, known for his theatrics, said the MLAs were actually kidnapped by the BJP at gunpoint.

“The BJP has kidnapped our MLAs and is keeping them at gunpoint. Their mobile phones have been seized. They're not even allowed to talk to their family members. If set free, the MLAs will return to us. 4-5 people each are keeping a watch on them,” he said. In another development, Karnataka Congress leader and Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar will visit Mumbai to meet dissident legislators at noon on Wednesday.Late in the night senior Congress leaders met in Bengaluru to review the political scenario in the state. The meeting was attended by the state in charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal, leader of the Congress in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah, state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Eshwar Khandre and Zameer Ahmad among others.

After the meeting, Azad said, "The entire country is anguished at the way the President at the national level and Governor at the state level are conducting themselves and the way democracy is being finished in this country." Accusing the BJP of using state machinery to topple governments, Azad said, "State after state, opposition governments are being toppled and the centre is using Governors for this. From Arunachal Pradesh to Karnataka, Governors side with defectors and help them come out of the Congress. We appeal to the nation to rise to the occasion to save democracy."Amidst all the high-voltage drama, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) kept a low profile throughout the day leaving the political wargame to the Congress to fight.

- Shankar Raj

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