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Two Independent MLAs seek seats on Opposition side in Karnataka Assembly


Bengaluru, July 13: Two Independent MLAs, who recently withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka and sided with the BJP, have written to the Assembly speaker requesting him to allot them seats on the opposition side in the House.

File photo of R Shankar, H Nagesh

In separate letters to the speaker, both H Nagesh (Mulabagilu MLA) and R Shankar (Ranebennur MLA) stated that they had withdrawn support to the ruling coalition and requested him to make seating arrangements for them on the opposition side in the Assembly.

The monsoon session of the Karnataka Assembly began on Friday and is scheduled to end on July 26.

Both the Independent legislators were absent on the first day of the session.

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According to sources, they are said to be camped at a hotel in Mumbai.

Nagesh, who was the state small scale industries minister, and Shankar, the municipal administration minister, had met Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan, submitted their letters of resignation and conveyed their decision to withdraw support to the government to him.

With 16 MLAs -- 13 of the Congress and three of the Janata Dal (Secular) -- resigning from the Assembly, the coalition government is facing a serious crisis in the southern state.

On June 14, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had expanded his cabinet by inducting Nagesh and Shankar, apparently to provide stability to his 13-month-old wobbly government.

It was seen as a move to ensure that the two Independent legislators did not jump the ship once again in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Shankar was inducted from the Congress's share and Nagesh from the JD(S) quota in the ministry.

Both had, in December last year, sided with the BJP on not being inducted into the ministry during a cabinet rejig and written to the governor informing him about their withdrawal of support to the government.

As the BJP then failed in its alleged attempts to topple the coalition and form the government, the two lawmakers subsequently retraced their steps to be back in the ruling alliance.

With Shankar and Nagesh withdrawing support to the government, the ruling coalition's current strength in the Assembly is 116 (Congress 78, JD(S) 37 and BSP one), besides the speaker.

With the support of the two Independent legislators, the BJP now has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the halfway mark is 113.

If the resignations of the 16 Congress-JD(S) MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will be reduced to 100.

In case of a trust vote in the Assembly, the speaker has a vote too.

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