In Karnataka Coalition Chaos, An Important Supreme Court Date Today

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Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar says he had not decided on the resignation letters

New Delhi: 

The Karnataka government crisis may take a new turn today as the Supreme Court takes up the case of 15 rebel lawmakers of the ruling Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition who have petitioned against the Speaker for not accepting their resignation.

On Thursday, the court had said there would be no decision till today on the dissident lawmakers who threaten the government’s survival.

Sixteen legislators of the JDS-Congress coalition and two independent lawmakers have resigned.

If the resignations are accepted, the coalition’s 118 members will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which would take its tally to 107.

Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar told the court that he would need time to examine the resignation letters of the dissidents and determine whether they were coerced or voluntary. He also claimed that many of the rebels face disqualification from their parties. The court, which had asked for the Speaker’s decision by Wednesday night last week, had questioned whether the Speaker had the power to challenge its order.

The coalition has decided to take a floor test this Thursday, a move seen as a last-ditch attempt to save the teetering coalition that came to power last May after an election that gave no clear majority to any party.

Backroom manoeuvring has been going on with Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar and other leaders reaching out to the rebels, who are holed up in a hotel in Mumbai.

The coalition saw a short-lived victory on Friday last when after being coaxed by Congress leader Siddaramaiah and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, rebel lawmaker MTB Nagaraj hinted he was open to coming back but on the condition that another rebel, Sudhakar Rao, withdrew his resignation. The next day, Mr Nagaraj flew out from Bengaluru to Mumbai to join the other rebel lawmakers.

The BJP, which will have a majority if the resignations are accepted, says the coalition government must resign because it has “lost its moral authority to rule.” The party has been accused by the Congress and the JDS of crafting the crisis to try and seize power in Karnataka, more than a year after it fell short of a majority in state polls.

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