Bengaluru: In a big setback to the HD Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka, at least 11 ruling coalition MLAs on Saturday resigned from the state assembly. Amid attempts by senior Congress leaders to convince them, the rebel MLAs later flew to Mumbai in a special flight.
Meanwhile, the Congress MLAs - Ramalinga Reddy, ST Somashekar, and Munirathna - stayed back. In view of the incident, Congress rushed its Karnataka in-charge KC Venugopal to Bengaluru to take stock of the situation. The party has dubbed the dissident action as part of "Operation Kamala" under which a BJP government is sought to be formed.
This came after a senior JD(S) MLA, who resigned from the Karnataka Assembly, claimed that 14 MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition have resigned from the House.
Talking to reporters after meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala, JD(S) MLA H Vishwanath claimed that 14 MLAs have jointly tendered their resignations to the Speaker and requested him to accept them. He said the Speaker promised to look into the resignations in accordance with the rules.
The dramatic turn of events in Karnataka has surely triggered a major political crisis in the state and the ruling Congress-JDS coalition government led by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy appears to be struggling to survive at the moment. All this comes at a time when CM Kumaraswamy is not in the country - on a foreign trip - and is expected to return on Sunday.
If the resignation of 11 MLAs of the ruling coalition is accepted by the Speaker, the one-year-old Congress-JD(S) government will have to face a trust vote. In case that happens, the numbers aren't in its favour.
Here's a look at the numbers in the state assembly
The Karnataka Assembly has a total of 225 members, including the Speaker. While the BJP is the largest party with 105 MLAs, Congress has 78 and JD(S) 37 MLAs.
Besides these, the Mayawati-led BSP and KPJP have one MLA each. There is one Independent MLA and one nominated MLA in the assembly.
If we exclude the Speaker, the strength falls to 224 and the magic figure to form the government is 113.
At present, the tally of the Congress-JD(S) alliance is 115, which gives it a majority. As of now. the ruling alliance also has support from the BSP and the lone independent MLA.
This takes the Congress-JD(S) strength to 117. Since the Congress-JD(S) government nominated one MLA, he too can vote in favour of the government, taking its effective strength to 118.
On the other hand, BJP has the support of KPJP which has one MLA. Thus the BJP+ stands at 106 at present.
If the Speaker accepts the resignation of 11 ruling side MLAs, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy will have a face a trust vote in the assembly.
With the resignation of these 11 MLAs, the effective strength of the Karnataka Assembly will come down to 214. Excluding the Speaker, the strength becomes 213. In this scenario, the magic figure needed to form the government will be 107.
This will be a very tricky situation benefitting the BJP+ since it already has 106 MLAs. It would, however, still need the support of one more MLA. The saffron might make attempts to secure the support of the Independent MLA.
In case, two more Congress-JD(S) MLAs resign, this will further bring down the House strength to 212. If this happens, the strength of the assembly minus the Speaker will be 211 and the magic figure needed to form the government will be 106 - exactly the number of MLAs the BJP+ has.
Since the post of the Speaker is a constitutional one, he is expected to be neutral. As per the tradition, the Speaker does not usually participate in voting during a trust vote. However, the Speaker can vote in case of a tie. In case of the nominated Anglo-Indian MLA, he too can vote.