DK Shivakumar has been making desperate attempts to win them back, but his efforts have come a cropper
As the Karnataka coalition faces a floor test it may not breeze through because of multiple resignations over the past few days, DK Shivakumar, the Congress’s chief troubleshooter, said he was confident that the government would survive. He also made a “sincere personal request” to the rebel lawmakers on a day the Supreme Court said they couldn’t be compelled to be present in the assembly even though it is up to the Speaker to take a call on their resignation.
“There is time. We are confident good sense will prevail on my friends. They are valuable. They have been lawmakers five-six times,” Mr Shivakumar said, reaching out to the dissidents, who have so far proved immune to his skills of persuasion.
The Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition is on very shaky grounds after 16 legislators resigned over the past two weeks and two independent lawmakers quit as ministers and pledged their support to rival BJP.
Mr Shivakumar has been making desperate attempts to win them back, but his efforts have come a cropper. Last week, he was forced to wait for hours outside a Mumbai hotel as the rebels sought protection from the police from him and refused to meet him.
The Mumbai police finally escorted him to the airport, from where he took a flight back to Bengaluru, empty-handed and disappointed.
The Congress has warned the rebels of disqualification if they defy a whip to attend the assembly. The rebels, however, say they cannot be forced to be in the assembly after their resignation.
“My sincere personal request to them is, don’t lose your membership. If you want to gain something, you have a House, you have a party…If they lose membership on the anti-defection law, they can’t become ministers,” Mr Shivakumar told NDTV.
“Even schoolchildren have basic common sense,” he remarked.
If the rebels skip the trust vote, the majority mark in the 224-member house will drop to 105. The coalition’s 118 will come down to 100. With the support of two independents, the BJP will have 107 members, just past the majority mark.
The numbers will be the same if the resignations are accepted.
If the lawmakers are disqualified, they must be re-elected and can’t become ministers. A resignation allows lawmakers to become ministers easily if the BJP comes to power. They will have six months to seek re-election.
Mr Shivakumar said the dissidents were part of an organization and bound by the rules of the party. “The law minister needs to clarify whether despite the whip, the legislators are free to choose whether to attend the house or not, after the Supreme Court order,” he said.
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