The wobbly coalition government in Karnataka suffered a jolt on Monday after Congress MLA Anand Singh announced his resignation from the assembly over certain demands.
Unconfirmed reports said another Congress MLA -- Ramesh Jarkiholi -- too has resigned but he not was available for comments even as the Assembly Secretariat said it had not received his letter in person, as was required under rules.
Singh said he decided to resign over his demands, including creation of a separate Vijayangar district and cancellation of the nod for sale of 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel in mine-rich Ballari district.
However, he appeared to have not shut the doors fully, saying he would "wait for answers" (from the government to his demands) when asked if he would withdraw the resignation.
Singh, who represents Vijayanagar assembly constituency, also outrightly rejected suggestions that he was succumbing to Operation Lotus, a strategy adopted by the BJP in 2008 to shore up its numbers in the assembly by making opposition MLAs resign and seek re-election on the saffron party ticket.
Amid repeated charges by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy that it was trying to destabilise the JDS-Congress government, the BJP recently said it was not making any such attempts.
Jarkhiholi, who has been hobnobbing with the BJP for some time now, in a letter addressed to the assembly Speaker has said he was resigning voluntarily.
A former minister, he had earlier threatened that he along with other MLAs would soon resign enmasse from Congress.
Earlier, there was some confusion on Singh's resignation as Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar said he had not got any communication from the MLA, who insisted he has quit.
However, later a statement from the Speaker's office confirmed receipt of the resignation letter.
Noting that the letter was received at 2 pm, the statement said necessary action would be taken "in accordance with rules laid down in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business" of the assembly.
Singh later met Governor Vajubhai Vala at the Raj Bhavan and handed over a copy of his resignation letter, which the MLA also shared with the media later.
"It is true that I have submitted my resignation," he told reporters emerging from the Raj Bhavan.
When asked for the reasons behind his decision, the MLA said there were many, but the primary one was his opposition to sale of 3,667 acres of land to JSW Steel and his demand for formation of Vijayanagar as a district.
He made it clear that he was not against the government but only opposed the decision taken by it.I am not against the industry.Industry must grow, jobs should be generated and youth should get employment. If I don't oppose the injustice to my district then it is
unbecoming of my being a public representative," the MLA said.
Appealing to the government not to execute the sale deed, the MLA insisted that the cabinet sub-committee formed to have a re-look into the decision must take a stand to set an example for the entire country.
Asked whether he would withdraw his resignation, Singh said, Lets wait for the answers. I will not say today whether I will withdraw my resignation or go ahead with my decision."
JD(S) leader and Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, who is in the US for the foundation laying ceremony of a temple, tweeted that he was aware of the developments taking place in the state.
"The foundation-laying of Kalabhairaveshwara Temple is going on at New Jersey under the aegis of Swamiji.I am watching all the developments from here. BJP is day dreaming to destabilise the government," Kumaraswamy tweeted.
Rejecting Kumaraswamy's charge, BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said the coalition government would collapse on its own and his party will not be responsible for it.
He said BJP would explore Constitutional provisions to form a new government in the event of fall of the coalition regime.
At the height of dissidence in the Congress last year, Singh had disappeared and was incommunicado. However, he surfaced and showed his allegiance to the party.
Earlier in January, he had come to blows with another Congress MLA J N Ganesh at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Ganesh had accused him of threatening to finish him politically.
A badly injured Singh was later admitted to hospital.Speculations are rife that at least six more MLAs from Congress would also rebel against their party.