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Will not withdraw resignations, say K’taka MLAs camped in Mumbai

Bengaluru: Even as Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy went into a huddle with the coalition leaders in a last-ditch attempt to save his 13-month-old alliance government, hit by resignations of over a dozen Congress-JD(S) MLAs, disgruntled MLAs camped in Mumbai Sunday made it clear they will not withdraw.

This comes even as opposition BJP said it is keeping a watch on the ongoing developments and indicated that the party was looking at options to form the government.

The Congress-JD(S) government has plunged into a crisis, with 13 MLAs of the alliance submitting their resignations to the Speaker so far, 12 of them on Saturday.

Nine Congress MLAs and three of JD(S) went to the Speaker’s office to put in their papers Saturday and later met Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan. Another Congress MLA, Anand Singh, submitted his resignation on July 1.

The ruling coalition, which has 118 MLAs in the 224 member assembly, faces the risk of losing its majority if the resignations are accepted. Ten out of total 13 MLAs who have resigned are now camping at a hotel in Mumbai.

“We are 10 MLAs, totally 13 MLAs had submitted resignation to Speaker and informed the Governor. All 13 of MLAs who have resigned are together and there is no question of us withdrawing our resignation,” one among the MLAs who resigned, S T Somashekar, said in Mumbai.

Speaking to reporters, flanked by other MLAs who have resigned, he said “three more MLAs – Ramalinga Reddy, Munirathna and Anand Singh will join us tomorrow.” To a question about attending the CLP meeting, Somashekar said there was no question of them doing so, as they had already submitted their resignations. Asked whether they would withdraw their resignations if the chief minister is changed, he said, “We have not asked for a change in CM, nor for someone else to be made CM.”

There were reports of a change of guard as an option to save the government by making veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge the chief minister. Kharge ruled it out, saying “false” and “flimsy” news was being spread through the media just to divide the party. He charged the BJP with trying to destabilise the “non BJP” elected governments across the country.

There were also reports that Siddaramaiah may be considered for chief minister if JD(S) agrees, to which JD(S) leader and Minister G T Deve Gowda said, “If the coordination committee decides Siddaramaiah should be the CM, we have no objection.. So be it.”

Kumaraswamy, who arrived here this evening from the US, drove straight to a hotel where a JD(S) MLAs meet was on. Sources said he asked the MLAs to stay united against BJP’s “operation” and about ways to save the government. He later held discussions with Congress leaders, including AICC General Secretary Venugopal and Siddaramaiah, they said.

All options, including a cabinet reshuffle to make way for disgruntled MLAs, by asking some loyalists of both parties to resign from the ministry, are likely to be discussed during Congress leaders’ meeting with the Chief Minister, sources had said.

Congress leaders, including Venugopal who have camped here, held a series of meetings Sunday to strategise the plan of action in a last ditch effort to save the government. They also tried to reach out to MLAs who resigned and pacify them, sources said, adding efforts were also made to contact MLAs suspected to be “vulnerable” and who might resign in the days to come.

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