Bengaluru: The wobbly coalition government in Karnataka suffered a jolt on Monday after Anand Singh, Congress MLA from Vijayanagar, resigned from the Assembly. "Yes. I have resigned. Today morning, I submitted the resignation," Singh said.
Later on Monday, Karnataka Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi also resigned from the state assembly membership and submitted his resignation to the Speaker.
In his handwritten letter in Kannada, faxed to the office of Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, Jarkiholi complained his party had "ignored" his seniority after dropping him from the cabinet last year. "I have resigned as Gokak legislator for being ignored by the party and the coalition government," he said.
A former minister, Jarkiholi had earlier threatened that he along with other MLAs would soon resign enmasse from Congress.
However, Jarkiholi was not available for comments even as the Assembly Secretariat said it had not received his letter in person, as is required under rules.
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa said Singh's resignation reflects large-scale unease in the ruling coalition and the government will collapse under its own weight, after which his party will explore the constitutional provisions to form the new government.
Ruling out the possibility of fresh polls, the former chief minister said those in the BJP were not "sanyasis" (seers), and the future of the government is based on the decision taken by over 20 disgruntled Congress-JD(S) legislators.
"About the political developments, I am yet to know about the resignation of Anand Singh. The only thing is that his resignation shows there is large-scale unease in Congress. We are not bothered about the resignations, our first concern is the people and drought," he said. "We will keep watching the situation. Anything may happen. If the government collapses, we are not responsible. It will collapse under its own weight."
"Only after the collapse of this government we can explore the constitutional provisions to form the new government. There is no question of elections. We are a strong force of 105 members and we have every right to make a claim for forming the government if the present one collapses," he added.
Anand Singh said he decided to resign over his demands, including the creation of a separate Vijayangar district and cancellation of the nod for sale of 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel in mine-rich Ballari district. However, he appeared to have not shut the doors fully, saying he would "wait for answers" (from the government to his demands) when asked if he would withdraw the resignation.
Singh, who represents Vijayanagar assembly constituency, also outright rejected suggestions that he was succumbing to Operation Lotus, a strategy adopted by the BJP in 2008 to shore up its numbers in the assembly by making opposition MLAs resign and seek re-election on the saffron party ticket.
Singh later met Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan and handed over a copy of his resignation letter, which the MLA also shared with the media later. "It is true that I have submitted my resignation," he told reporters, emerging from the Raj Bhavan.
When asked for the reasons behind his decision, the MLA said there were many, but the primary one was his opposition to sale of 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel and his demand for formation of Vijayanagar as a district. He made it clear that he was not against the government but only opposed the decision taken by it.
"I am not against the industry. Industry must grow, jobs should be generated and youth should get employment. If I don't oppose the injustice to my district, then it is unbecoming of my being a public representative," the MLA said.
Appealing to the government not to execute the sale deed, Singh insisted that the cabinet sub-committee formed to have a re-look into the decision must take a stand to set an example for the entire country.
Asked whether he would withdraw his resignation, Singh said, Lets wait for the answers. I will not say today whether I will withdraw my resignation or go ahead with my decision."
JD(S) leader and chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who is in the US for the foundation laying ceremony of a temple, tweeted that he was aware of the developments taking place in the state.
"The foundation laying of Kalabhairaveshwara Temple is going on at New Jersey under the aegis of Swamiji. I am watching all the developments from here. BJP is day dreaming to destabilise the government," Kumaraswamy tweeted.
The BJP in Karnataka appears to be closely monitoring the situation as Karnataka BJP chief and former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa hinted at exploring possibilities of forming a government if the Congress-JD(S) coalition government falls before completing its term.
"Even I have heard about his (Anand Singh's) resignation through media. We don't want to destabilise the government... If the government falls on own its own, we will explore the possibilities of forming the new government but there is no question of fresh elections," Yeddyurappa was quoted as saying by NDTV.
Reports of Singh’s resignations have triggered speculations of BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ being back in the fray ahead of the legislature session which is scheduled from July 12.
'Operation Lotus' refers to the BJP's strategy during Yeddyurappa's previous tenure as the chief minister when it made several MLAs of other parties to resign and contest the elections on the party's ticket and win to strengthen its numbers in the assembly.
Singh had recently held a press conference in Ballari against the sale of 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel. He had stated that protecting the interest of the district was more important than the party and had hinted he would resign.
It is speculated that he would join the BJP.
At the height of dissidence in the Congress last year, Singh had disappeared and was incommunicado. However, he surfaced and showed his allegiance to the party.
Earlier in January, he had come to blows with another Congress MLA J N Ganesh at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
Ganesh had accused him of finishing him politically. A badly injured Singh was later admitted to hospital. Reports were rife that at least six more MLAs from Congress would also rebel against their party.
(With inputs from agencies)