Bangalore: Karnataka could soon face a political crisis with 13 more Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs ready with their resignations to join former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa's new party. On Wednesday two Karnataka ministers - Shobha Karandlaje and CM Udasi - who are also Yeddyurappa loyalists had resigned.
The decision by the MLAs to quit assembly membership has raised questions about the BJP government's stability. Jolting the six-month-old Jagadish Shettar ministry, Public Works Minister CM Udasi and Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje quit followed by high drama at Speaker KG Bopiah's office where they and 11 other MLAs tried to submit their resignation letters but in vain.
Bopaiah was not in office when the MLAs trooped in as he was reportedly out of station while the Assembly Legislature Secretary Omprakash was also not present, prompting an enraged Yeddyurappa to rush there,insisting that the government had been reduced to a minority.
The agitated MLAs insisted that their resignation letters be accepted by an official or an acknowledgement given that they are not empowered to receive them but Assembly Joint Secretary Jayatheertha P Galagali (RPT) Galagali told them to submit resignations "when Speaker comes to office".
During the one-hour drama, a livid Yeddyurappa, who recently floated the Karnataka Janata Party, said, "Shettar government has been reduced to a minority. He has no moral right to continue in office. He should call off his tour, return to the city and resign."
Yeddyurappa said Bopaiah had been alerted yesterday about the resignation of MLAs, but he has left on a tour. "It is a shameless government. Shettar should meet the Governor and tender resignation," he said.
Shortly thereafter, the 13 MLAs drove to Raj Bhavan and asked Governor HR Bhardwaj to take suitable steps for acceptance of their resignations by Bopaiah.
"The governor assured us to take suitable action as per constitutional provisions," Udasi told reporters here, adding, the MLAs submitted copies of their resignation letters to him after briefing about the non-availability of the Speaker in spite of being told in advance about their meeting him.
Karandlaje requested the governor to investigate the matter of a cabinet minister "whisking" away the Speaker to the Airport to help him fly out of the city when he was informed yesterday about the MLAs visiting his office.
Shettar, on north Karnataka tour, said he would decide on the ministers' resignations after consulting BJP central leadership. He said the government faced "no problems" and enjoyed majority. "We will face the session (budget session is slated to begin from February four)."
Bhardwaj earlier said, "If there is a constitutional crisis in the state, I am ready to act." He, however, said he would not like to disturb the Jagadish Shettar government.
He said he had spoken to Shettar on Tuesday and the chief minister said there was nothing wrong with his government. Earlier, Karandlaje and Udasi handed over their resignation letters to Shettar.
The first-ever BJP government in the south has lurched from crisis to crisis seeing the exit of Yeddyurappa as chief minister over corruption charges and Sadananda Gowda following pressure from the former BJP strongman to remove him.
Though handpicked by him, Yeddyurappa has also been targeting Shettar. Yeddyurappa had quit BJP and floated his own outfit KJP last December and repeatedly put the Shettar government on notice about its stability, claiming support of 20-30 BJP MLAs.
Brushing aside the threats to his government, Shettar has said he would present the state budget on February 8, the last ahead of assembly polls due in May.
The MLAs who have offered to quit are CM Udasi, Nehru Olekar, Thippeswamy, BP Harish, H Halappa, Suresh Gowda Patil, Shobha Karandlaje, SI Chikkangoudar, Suresh, G Shivanna, Chandrappa, VS Patil and Basavaraj Patil Attur.
In the 225 member assembly, BJP has a strength of 117 excluding speaker and it requires 113 for a simple majority. Congress has 71 members and JDS 26. There are seven Independents and two vacancies. One member is nominated.