The crisis facing the coalition government in Karnataka could affect the Congress’ strong base in Bengaluru after it emerged that four MLAs representing the party in the city were among the 13 MLAs who submitted their resignations from the state Assembly on Saturday.
The four MLAs are - Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout), ST Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur), Byarathu Basavaraj (KR Puram), and Munirathna (Rajarajeshwarinagar) - while K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout) of the JD(S) has also submitted his resignation. Sowmya Reddy, who is the Congress MLA of Jayanagar and the daughter of rebel MLA Ramalinga Reddy, is also said to be planning to submit her resignation although she is yet to do so.
Ramalinga Reddy's resignation along with four other MLAs from Bengaluru could erode the Congress party's foothold in the city.
In the 2018 Assembly Elections, the party managed to win 14 out of the 27 seats in Bengaluru. JD(S) also won in two constituencies limiting BJP to just 11 seats in Bengaluru despite its dominance in other regions in the state.
However, political observers note that the edge held by the Congress in Bengaluru will disappear if the party is unable to quell the resignations of its MLAs in the city. "If MLAs like Ramalinga Reddy, who is a seven-time MLA, are resigning from the Assembly, there is no doubt that it will have an effect on the Congress. If the party cannot contain these resignations, it speaks volumes of the slide the party is facing in the city," says Sandeep Shastri, a noted political analyst and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Jain University.
Ramalinga Reddy is a former state Home Minister and Transport Minister. He is a seven-time MLA from Bengaluru. His supporters had earlier staged a protest outside the Congress party office in Bengaluru in December 2018 when he was denied a berth in the cabinet. It was also Ramalinga Reddy who held talks with JD(S) National President HD Deve Gowda to ensure that a Congress–JD(S) coalition came to power in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council. This, also ensured that the post of BBMP Mayor has been with the Congress for the past four years.
According to sources, Ramalinga Reddy has asked the Congress to make him the Bengaluru Development Minister, a portfolio currently held by Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara. Ramalinga Reddy had been miffed with Chief Minister Kumaraswamy for not including him when the cabinet was formed and further excluding him during the reshuffle. Moreover, the Congress was also defeated in all three constituencies in Bengaluru in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections despite fielding big names like Krishna Byre Gowda and Rizwan Arshad.
"The Congress has not done enough since the 2018 Assembly Election defeat and the subsequent loss in the Lok Sabha Elections this year. The party President also resigned so the focus has been more on national level politics and that has seen issues in Bengaluru and the state being ignored," Sandeep adds.