The political drama unfolding in Karnataka has now crossed state borders with Congress and JD(S) rebel legislators landing in Mumbai. At around 8.35 pm on Saturday, nine Congress and JD(S) MLAs arrived at Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex.
Sources in the BJP say that former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa's personal assistant Santosh, MLA Ashwathnarayana and CP Yogeshwar ushered 11 rebel MLAs from Raj Bhavan to Bengaluru's HAL Airport, where they boarded a private charter flight said to be owned by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekar's company Jupiter Capital. This despite Yeddyurappa releasing a press statement claiming that the BJP had nothing to do with the rebellion in the coalition.
A spokesperson for Jupiter Capital said, "Yes, the plane does belong to Jupiter Capital. It must also be noted that when the company receives a request to hire the private plane, it is up to the discretion of the company head to rent it out. The MLAs did travel in a plane owned by Jupiter Capital."
On Saturday afternoon, 13 MLAs -- 10 from Congress and 3 from the JD(S) -- knocked on Speaker Ramesh Kumar's door at Vidhana Soudha and tendered their resignations. The MLAs also rushed to meet the Governor Vajubhai Vala to apprise him of the political turmoil in the coalition.
The MLAs include former state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, Ramesh Jarkiholi, H Vishwanath, ST Somashekar, Pratapgouda Patil, K Gopalaiah, BC Patil, Mahesh Kumtahallli, Narayana Gowda, Byrathi Basavaraj, Shivaram Hebbar, Anand Singh and Munirathna Naidu
The 13 Karnataka MLAs, who submitted their resignation, have done so demanding a change in leadership in the Congress-JD(S) led government, helmed by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
If five more MLAs resign, the coalition will no longer have a majority in the Karnataka Assembly.
"There are way too many power centres in the coalition. There is Kumaraswamy, who is hoarding 11 portfolios. There were several requests to expand the number of cabinet berths and share the portfolios with seniors and veterans. That did not happen. On the other hand, Siddaramaiah has also been controlling Congress MLAs. There was a perpetual stalemate between Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah. Constant transfer of officials and the power struggle resulted in several veterans being sidelined. They realised that staying with the coalition was worthless," a highly placed source in Congress said.
The strength of the coalition government is 120 now, including the Speaker. Congress has 80 MLAs, the JD(S) has 37 MLAs and there is 1 BSP MLA. Two independent MLAs - R Shankar from Ranebennur and H Nagesh from Mulbagal constituencies - are also supporting the coalition. The BJPâ€™s strength in the Assembly is 105. The majority mark is 113.