Bengaluru: In a fresh twist to the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka, rebel Congress MLA MTB Nagaraj on Saturday hinted at reconsidering his resignation after meeting party leader DK Shivakumar.
A day after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy made a surprise announcement in the Assembly that he would seek a trust vote in the House, the ruling coalition has intensified efforts to reach out to the rebel MLAs.
Congress "troubleshooter" Shivakumar reached Nagaraj's residence early on Saturday morning and camped there for almost four-and-a-half hours, trying to pacify the Hoskote MLA. Subsequently, Parameshwara also reached Nagaraj's house to convince him to withdraw his resignation.
A similar attempt was on to persuade MLAs Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna, K Sudhakar and R Roshan Baig.
“The situation was such that we submitted our resignations. But now DK Shivakumar and other Congress leaders have come here and requested me to withdraw my resignation. I will speak to Chikkaballapura MLA K Sudhakar Rao and see what can be done. Sudhakar and I had resigned on the same day. I will borrow some time.. I’m still with the party,” said state minister Nagaraj.
"Siddaramaiah and Dinesh Gundu Rao called me and requested me to withdraw the resignation and stay in the party. I have sought time to mull over it," Nagaraj added.
Sources in the Janata Dal (Secular) said Kumaraswamy was in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators, who had resigned, and was hopeful that they would withdraw their resignations.
While Nagaraj made no clear announcement of taking back his resignation, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara said the party is indeed trying to pursue him.
“MTB Nagraj has been with the party for 40 years. He had certain demands but he left in the middle of all this chaos. We are trying to persuade him,” he said.
Parameshwara also tweeted that he is confident of all MLAs backing the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state.
Veteran leaders like MTB Nagaraj are integral part of our Congress family. Differences & discontentments arise naturally within families but they are also sorted out within the family itself. I'm confident he and other MLAs will reconsider their resignations & back our government— Dr. G Parameshwara (@DrParameshwara) July 13, 2019
Nagraj, MLA from Hoskote, along with Congress leaders DK Shivkumar, G Parmeshwar, Krishna Byre Gowda also went to meet Siddaramaiah at his residence on Saturday afternoon.
To a query on whether all the differences were sorted out, Nagaraj said he had resigned due to certain "discontentment" and that there was disagreement in every political party. "The party high-command is trying to persuade the MLAs. I will also try my best to help them in their efforts," he added.
Nagaraj then left for state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah's residence. Nagaraj and Sudhakar had resigned from the Assembly on July 10. In all, 16 Congress and JD(S) MLAs have submitted their resignations.
Triggering speculation, a group of BJP leaders, led by MLA SR Vishwanath and Bengaluru corporator Padmanabha Reddy, met Ramalinga Reddy at his residence.
However, Reddy refused to comment on the development, saying he would not speak on politics till July 15 as he had to appear before the Assembly speaker.
Meanwhile, his daughter and Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy said she had no information about the meeting. "I am in the Congress and I have not resigned. My father has resigned and all the questions pertaining to his resignation should be asked to him," she said.
In a bid to keep their flocks together ahead of the floor test in the Assembly that is likely to take place in the coming week, both the Congress and the BJP have shifted their MLAs to hotels and resorts.
Earlier, commenting on the developments, state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa said these efforts would not yield any result as the fall of the coalition government was "imminent".
"There is confusion in the Congress and the JD(S) due to which the MLAs are fleeing these parties. A systematic conspiracy is going on to bring the MLAs back," the former Karnataka chief minister said. "The atmosphere is chaotic and the fall of the government is imminent."
Claiming that the ruling coalition had lost majority in the Assembly, Yeddyurappa said seeking a vote of confidence was "meaningless".
The Congress has also initiated disqualification proceedings against its rebel MLAs. The ruling coalition's total strength is 116 – the Congress with 78, the JDS with 37 and the BSP with a single lawmaker, besides the Speaker.
With the support of the two independents, who resigned on Monday, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.
(With inputs from PTI)