The JD-S-Congress government in Karnataka was on the brink of collapse on Monday as an Independent legislator resigned from the Cabinet and withdrew his support to the ruling coalition, which has already been hit by the resignations by over a dozen MLAs of the two parties.
The resignation by H. Nagesh, the Minister for Small Scale Industries, came even as the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular were making hectic efforts to save their 13-month-old alliance government.
As part of the effort, the two parties asked all their ministers to resign to pave the way for reconstitution of the Cabinet to accommodate the disgruntled and rebel MLAs. All 22 Congress and 9 JD-S ministers subsequently submitted their resignations.
Most of the Congress MLAs, who resigned on Saturday last, has left Karnataka and lodged themselves in Mumbai. The rebel MLAs, sources said, were likely to fly back to Bengaluru on Tuesday to meet the Speaker and insist on their resignations being accepted, and have ruled out changing their decision to quit.
Before the resignations, the ruling coalition had 118 MLAs, five more than the required majority mark of 113 in the 225-member Assembly.
They included 78 MLAs of the Congress (excluding the Speaker), 37 of the JD-S, one each from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and regional outfit Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janata Party (KPJP) and an Independent.
"I have this day, tendered my resignation from the council of ministers, headed by (Chief Minister) H.D. Kumaraswamy," said Nagesh, an Independent MLA from the Mulbagal (SC) Assembly constituency, in a letter to Governor Vajubhai Vala.
Nagesh, who handed over the letter to Vala at Raj Bhavan, also mentioned that he was withdrawing his support to the government.
"I would by this letter, inform your good self that I withdraw my support to the government, headed by Kumaraswamy," he wrote.
The 34-member ministry had 22 ministers from the Congress, 10 from Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and one each from Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) and Independent.
This deepens the woes of the ruling coalition for which trouble started on Saturday when 10 Congress and three JD-S MLAs resigned from the Assembly, expressing lack of confidence in the government.
However, Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar is yet to decide on these resignations.
Nagesh's resignation comes barely a month after he was inducted into the Cabinet, along with R. Shankar of the regional party KPJP (Karnataka Pragyavantara Janata Paksha) to ensure their support to his fledgling government facing revolt from a dozen Congress rebel legislators since December.
Shankar, who is Municipalities Minister, also tendered his resignation letter to Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah along with 20 other Congress ministers to pave way for a dozen of its rebels from withdrawing their resignations and making them ministers to save the coalition government from collapsing ahead of the 10-day monsoon session of the state legislature from July 12.
This is the second time Nagesh and Shankar, who represents the Rannebennur Assembly segment, have withdrawn support to the coalition government. They earlier did so on January 15 after being dropped from the ministry on December 22 in a minor cabinet reshuffle-cum-expansion to ensure the government's stability.
The Congress accused the BJP of wrecking its government in Karnataka. "BJP's national leaders are behind this political crisis in the state. They do not want any government or any opposition party to rule in any state. They are destroying democracy," Congress MLA D.K. Suresh told reporters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in New Delhi were quick to retort. "The BJP has nothing to do with the political crisis in Karnataka," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament.