JD-S open to Congress CM in Karnataka, claims Minister; ally denies

Bengaluru, July 21 (IANS) In a bid to save the coalition government in Karnataka, Congress Minister D.K. Shivakumar on Sunday claimed the alliance partner Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) was ready to make way for a Chief Minister from his party.

"JD-S is ready for the Congress heading the coalition government with its Chief Minister. Its (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda told our party high command that his party was not opposed to a Congress leader heading the government," Shivakumar told reporters here.

JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu, however, denied such a decision was taken by the party leadership.

"I am not aware of this development. We are busy preparing for the debate and vote on the confidence motion tomorrow (Monday) to save our government first," Babu told IANS here.

Ahead of the house resuming the debate on the trust vote before the floor test on Monday, the Congress state leaders and legislators met at a hotel where they have been camping since a week to prevent the opposition BJP "poaching" them to reduce the coalition government to minority in the assembly.

Clarifying that the issue of the Congress heading the coalition set-up was not discussed by the JD-S legislature party, Babu said the Congress had offered unconditional support to his party for forming the coalition government with H.D. Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister for 5 years.

"As the 2018 Assembly elections threw up a hung House, with a split verdict, the Congress entered into a post-poll alliance with our party to form the coalition government for 5 years to keep the BJP out of power as it did not get majority," he said.

With 15 rebel legislators, including 12 from the Congress and 3 JD-S, resigning from the house, and two Independents withdrawing support, the 14-month coalition government is facing an imminent defeat in the Assembly as the former refused to withdraw their resignations or attend the session for voting in its favour during the floor test.

"None of the 13 MLAs will attend the session on Monday even if the Chief Minister's post is offered to the Congress," rebel Congress legislator Munirathna said in a video message to Kannada channels from an unknown destination in the neighbouring Maharashtra earlier in the day.

--IANS

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