In the 14 months since the Karnataka Assembly elections, the state government has been in crisis countless times. But on Monday, it looks like the Congress-JD(S) combine in the state has lost its majority. With the resignation of 13 MLAs (yet to be accepted), and the defection of one independent MLA to the BJP, the coalition’s number stands at 105 (including the Speaker) at the time of writing. The halfway mark in the House now reduced to 211, is 106.
The Congress-JD(S) coalition, in a last ditch attempt to save the government, has decided that all sitting 22 Congress ministers will resign to make way for the rebels. It is unclear if JD(S) ministers and the Chief Minister himself will resign. However, sources say that the BJP has also promised Cabinet berths to the rebel MLAs, so whether the coalition’s matching offer will be taken up by the defectors will have to be seen.
By the looks of it, the BJP has the numbers – 105 of their own legislators, plus one independent – H Nagesh from Mulbagal. However, the BJP is yet to stake claim to form the government, though it does have the numbers. And the party is not likely to do so immediately due to two important reasons.
One – the Independent MLA Nagesh can swing back to the Congress, if DK Shivakumar manages to persuade him. Second – the Congress is confident of convincing Ramalinga Reddy and two other MLAs to come back to their fold. And so the BJP may wait for two or three more resignations, before they stake claim.
Ramalinga Reddy is a seven-time MLA of the Congress, and party sources say that he may be convinced to stay on if the party gives him the Bengaluru Development Ministry – a portfolio currently held by Deputy Chief Minister and Congressman Dr G Parameshwara. With Parameshwara – and in fact the entire Cabinet – deciding to offer their resignation to accommodate the rebels, the party is confident that Ramalinga Reddy and his supporters will stay on to save the government.
But at the end of the day, it is likely that it will come down to a numbers game – and one MLA here or there will be the difference between who will rule Karnataka, or whether the state will see mid-term elections soon.