In a last-ditch effort to save its shaky coalition government in Karnataka, Congress’ trouble-shooter and senior minister D K Shivakumar yesterday assured the rebel legislators of meeting their demands if they withdrew their resignations and attend the Assembly session underway.
“The party is ready to meet demands of the rebels if they withdraw resignations and attend the session,” Shivakumar told reporters here even as state housing minister and rebel lawmaker M T B Nagaraj flew to Mumbai to join the other rebels a day after assuring the party leaders of withdrawing his resignation.
While a Congress spokesman said Nagaraj gave no reason for his trip, other leaders accused the opposition BJP of taking Nagaraj forcibly to Mumbai in an aircraft that belongs to its Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekar.
“Nagaraj flew in a chartered aircraft to Mumbai this afternoon. We don’t know the reason, as he didn’t inform us. We hope he will return today in time to attend the session,” Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda said.
Warning the rebels of action against them if they don’t withdraw their resignations and attend the session, Shivakumar said they would be disqualified if they defy the party whip issued to all its members, including them, for their presence in the Assembly.
“Presence of all the members in the Assembly is mandatory as the Finance Bill of the state budget for 2019-20 fiscal had to be passed in the session by July 26 and voting in favour of the confidence motion if moved by the Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
In all, 16 rebel legislators, including 13 from the Congress and three from its ally Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) resigned from their Assembly seats across the state for various reasons such as lack of development in their constituencies and loss of faith in the leadership.
“I am sure the rebels are well aware of the law. If they defy the whip by absenting from the House or vote against the confidence motion when moved, they will be disqualified and lose membership. The party is ready to settle their demands,” Shivakumar reiterated.
Alleging that the opposition BJP was engineering defections by forcing the legislators of the ruling allies to resign in return for money and ministerial posts in the event of it forming the government, Shivakumar said people of the state have seen how BJP leaders and members were co-ordinating the movement of the rebels and arranging their logistics to fly to Mumbai and other places during the last one week.
“The BJP leaders, however claim that their party is not involved in the resignations of rebels or their flight to Mumbai and Delhi and stay in hotels and resorts. At whose expense is the opposition party hosting them and why,” asked Shivakumar.