The Jagadish Shettar-led BJP government in Karnataka is keeping its options open, including dissolution of the state Assembly, in the wake of resignation by 13 party MLAs who are loyal to former party leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has left the BJP.
Shettar is making all efforts to save the government at least till 8 February so that it can present the budget for the coming financial year.
State BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa told The Sunday Guardian that everything will depend on Speaker K.G. Bopaiah’s decision on the resignations. “He is expected to be in his office on Monday. We will see what decision he takes on resignation of the 13 MLAs,” he said. Asked if dissolution of theAssembly was an option before the party, he said: “We will take a call after assessing the situation on 28 January.”
BJP in-charge of Karnataka, Dharmendra Pradhan said that the party would not compromise with its principles. “We are ready for any political eventuality. If the situation does arise, we may opt for going to the people to seek a fresh mandate,” said Pradhan. He added that at present, the entire focus was on to ensure that the budget session, starting from 4 February, passes smoothly.
The BJP’s strategy will depend on the action by the rival camp. As of now 13 MLAs, including two ministers, have announced their resignations, which are yet to be accepted by the Speaker.
The Karnataka Assembly has a strength of 225 MLAs, out of which the BJP has 117, excluding the Speaker and requires 113 for a simple majority. There is one nominated MLA. If the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the effective strength will get reduced to 212, which means the party will require 106 MLAs for majority. However, the party has the support of 111 MLAs (including Independents). Therefore, there is no immediate threat to Shettar. However, the situation will change if more MLAs loyal to Yeddyurappa resign in the next few days. In case the party feels that it has lost the majority, the government may recommend the dissolution of the Assembly, which means there could be early elections, said a BJP source.
The party is trying, according to him, to somehow present the budget which is aimed at pushing through populist schemes, which may give some advantage to the party in the next elections.
The BJP also wants the Assembly elections to be conducted under Shettar as the Chief Minister and not under President’s Rule.