Nagaraj won’t return; coalition efforts to mollify rebel MLA fail

Leaders of the Congress-JD(S) coalition held negotiations with Nagaraj on Saturday in a bid to woo him back to save the 13-month old HD Kumaraswamy-led government that is on the brink of collapse

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MLA Nagaraj

Bengaluru/Mumbai: Efforts by Karnataka‘s ruling coalition leaders to mollify rebel Congress MLA MTB Nagaraj has failed as he flew to Mumbai on Sunday, where he made it clear that there was no question of withdrawing his resignation. Until yesterday, it was being speculated he would return to the coalition.

Leaders of the Congress-JD(S) coalition held negotiations with Nagaraj on Saturday in a bid to woo him back to save the 13-month old HD Kumaraswamy-led government that is on the brink of collapse.

However, the Hoskote MLA, speaking to reporters ahead of leaving the city, had maintained that he intended to take a final decision on the withdrawal of his resignation after talks with Chikkaballapura MLA K Sudhakar.

Nagaraj and Sudhakar had submitted their resignations together to Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on 10 July.

Minutes after speaking to the media, visuals of Nagaraj boarding a chartered flight had surfaced on local news channels.

Later in the day, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Nagaraj said there was no question of withdrawing his resignation and that he was “firm” on the decision.

Stating that all MLAs who have resigned are together, he denied that senior BJP leader R Ashoka had flown with him on the special flight or that the saffron party’s influence was behind their resignations.

Nagaraj, however, admitted saying that he would withdraw his resignation if Sudhakar too agreed, but maintained that he was now firm on his resignation.

Earlier in the day, Congress MLA and former minister HK Patil had said, “Nagaraj must have learnt that Sudhakar is in Mumbai and I feel he has gone there to bring him and other legislators back.”

Reacting to media reports that Nagraj was in Mumbai to convince the MLAs to withdraw their resignations, rebel Congress MLA ST Somashekar said such claims are baseless as he has joined them now.

Stressing that the 12 rebel MLAs now in Mumbai are united, he said Sudhakar was currently in Delhi and would soon join them.

Reacting to Congress Minister Shivakumar’s statement that BJP was behind his travel to Mumbai, Nagraj said his statements were far from the truth.

Blaming the BJP, Shivakumar, considered Congress’s troubleshooter had said, “The BJP has been fooling around that it has no relation with the current situation.

They have been saying that it is the internal matter of Congress and the JD(S) and they have no knowledge about it.”

Alleging that BJP had arranged for the MLAs hotel stay, travel and flight, he had said that if the saffron party has any self-respect and shame, they should accept that they are behind it.

Before leaving for Mumbai, Nagaraj told reporters, “Sudhakar has switched off his phone, and is not available for the last two days.

After pacifying and convincing Sudhakar, I will try to bring him back. Because we both had resigned together, so we want to be united. I have informed this to Congress leaders.”

Noting that he was still in the Congress, he had said that leaders, including Kumaraswamy and CLP leader Siddaramaiah, have asked him to withdraw the resignation.

“I’m also trying for it (withdraw). Only thing is that I have to meet Sudhakar, I haven’t met him. I will meet him, he should be somewhere,” he said, adding “my intention is that we have to withdraw it (resignation) together.”

A day after Kumaraswamy made a surprise announcement in the Assembly that he would seek a trust vote, marathon meetings were held by coalition leaders, including Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy and Minister DK Shivakumar, with Nagaraj on Saturday to convince him.

Nagaraj is among the five rebel Congress MLAs who had moved the Supreme Court on Saturday against the Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar not accepting their resignations.

MLAs Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraj (MTB), Munirathna and Roshan Baig have sought to be impleaded in the already pending application filed by the 10 other rebel MLAs, on which the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The coalition government is on a sticky wicket with 16 MLAs — 13 of the Congress and three of the JD(S) — resigning from their assembly membership.

Besides, two independent legislators, who were made ministers recently to provide stability, have quit the cabinet.

The independents — H Nagesh and R Shankar — withdrew support to the coalition government and are now supporting the BJP.

The ruling coalition’s strength in the House is 116 (Congress 78, JD(S) 37 and BSP one), besides the speaker.

With the support of the two independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House.

If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition’s tally will be reduced to 100. The speaker has a vote, too.