NEW DELHI: Karnataka's year-old Congress-Janata Dal coalition government is on life support after a minister - an independent lawmaker - resigned as minister today and came out in support of the BJP, giving it a narrow edge in the assembly. In an attempt at survival after 13 resignations last week, the Congress and the JDS have asked their ministers to quit and make room for rebels who might be persuaded to return. Congress ministers were invited to breakfast this morning by G Parameshwara, the Deputy Chief Minister. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who cut short his US holiday and returned last evening, held a meeting at a luxury hotel till midnight. The BJP has denied any role in the crisis but sources say it is getting ready to strike; its leader BS Yeddyurappa, said, "we are not sanyasis (hermits)".
The BJP, which failed to gather enough numbers to form government last year, has won the support of independent lawmaker Nagesh, who quit just one month after he was made a minister. The party has called a meeting this evening to assess its next move. Nagesh has left for Mumbai, which has become the base of the rebels. The lawmakers who resigned on Saturday -- eight from the Congress and three from the JDS -- were ferried to a five-star hotel in Mumbai the same day.
There are reports of two more exits, including that of Congress's Soumya Reddy, daughter of former Karnataka minister Ramalinga Reddy. The JDS has moved all its lawmakers to a resort. Sources said the party has booked 35 rooms in Paddington Resort in Kodagu for tonight.
The Congress, which accused the BJP of herding the rebels to a hotel in Mumbai, alleged that Nagesh has been kidnapped. "Just now Mr Nagesh called me and said that he has been hijacked by Mr Yeddyurappas' personal attendant and the BJP. By the time I reached airport the flight had left," Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
If the resignations stand, the Congress-JDS coalition's 118 members in the 224-seat state assembly will come down to 104 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 106. The BJP, with the support of Nagesh, has 106 members.