Two Independent lawmakers -- H Nagesh and R Shankar -- have withdrawn support from the government of HD Kumaraswamy amid a huge political churn in Karnataka. Pointing to the numbers, Kumaraswamy said he was "totally relaxed". Their defection brings down the numbers of the ruling alliance from 120 to 118 - the halfway mark stands at 113. Over the last two days, there have been tit-for-tat allegations of attempted poaching from the Congress and the BJP camps. The Congress says several of its lawmakers have gone "missing". Meanwhile, the BJP has shifted its 104 lawmakers to Gurgaon near Delhi. The BJP flew its 104 lawmakers to the capital and then took them to a luxury resort in neighbouring Gurgaon, alleging that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was trying to split its ranks.
In a jolt to the seven-month-old Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka, two legislators — a member of a regional outfit and an Independent — on Tuesday said they are withdrawing their support.
R. Shankar, a legislator from Ranebennur Assembly segment in Haveri district, belonging to the regional Karnataka Pragnavantha Janata Party, and H. Nagesh an Independent from Mulbagal constituency in Kolar district, withdrew their support to the coalition.
“I had extended support to the JD-S-Congress coalition expecting good governance, but have been disappointed,” Shankar told the media.
The two legislators shared with the media their letter to Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R. Vala withdrawing their support to the coalition.
Shankar, who was a former Forest Minister in Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s cabinet, was dropped from the Ministry during a reshuffle and expansion on December 22 last year.
He sent the letter withdrawing support to the Governor on the official letterhead of the Ministry he was in charge of before he was sacked.
The withdrawal of support by the two MLAs came amid an ongoing political war between the coalition partners JD-S and Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over alleged poaching of Congress legislators by the BJP.
Speaking to reporters here, senior Congress leader K.C. Venugopal blamed the BJP for indulging in horse trading.
“There is no threat to Kumaraswamy government, but the BJP is desperately trying to destabilise the government through ugly horse trading,” Venugopal said.
The BJP was approaching and luring each Congress legislator with money, the Congress leader alleged.
Responding to the development, Congress leader and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara blamed the BJP for trying to topple the state government.
“BJP is trying to sway the legislators with money power. Their aim is to topple the government, but we are confident of retaining our stability as we have the support of all our legislators,” Parameshwara told the media here.
In the 225-member Karnataka Assembly, the Congress has 80 MLAs including the Speaker, the JD-S 37 and the BJP 104.
While the BJP has denied the poaching allegations, it has kept 99 of its 104 legislators at a private resort in Gurugram, adjoining the national capital, state unit spokesman Vamanacharya said.
“A total of 99 legislators are currently at a private resort, while the other five are in Delhi and in touch with us,” he said.
Kumaraswamy was unfazed. “I know my strength. We are in touch, why do you worry,” he asked journalists.
He was referring to the three Congress MLAs including Ramesh Jharkiholi, a senior leader who is now sulking after being dropped from the Cabinet recently.
Congress leader and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara accused the BJP of trying to “topple” a “stable” government.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on why Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were being allowed to “destabilise” the state government.
“‘Mr. Saaf Niyat’ Narendra Modi, is allowing your disgraceful BJP Karnataka leaders to destabilise government a ‘Saaf Niyat’ towards democracy?” the former Chief Minister tweeted.
“Your PR slogans does not hide your actual ‘niyat’ and your ‘sahi vikas’ should go beyond developing resorts. First show your niyat to people.”
Siddaramaiah’s tweet, mocking the Modi government’s slogan of “Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas” (clean intent, right development), came a day after the southern state’s Minister for Irrigation D.K. Shivakumar alleged that Congress legislators were being poached by the BJP.
The BJP’s Karnataka unit has rubbished the Congress’ claims. (IANS)