The Bharatiya Janata Party is committed to parliamentary democracy and does not have anything to do with the political crisis in Karnataka, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament on Monday after the opposition accused the BJP of engineering defections in the state where the Congress runs a government in coalition with the Janata Dal-Secular.
Rajnath Singh’s rebuttal came after a sharp attack on the BJP by the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury who alleged the BJP had prevailed upon its legislators to quit their seats.
”We have 10 gold and 10 silver coins… Just because we can’t protect them well, doesn’t mean someone comes and steals it,” Chowdhury said, echoing a charge that his party leaders in Karnataka have also made. The Congress says its legislators have been lured and arm-twisted by central agencies to force them to quit from the party and assembly.
Rajnath Singh insisted that it was beneath the BJP to indulge in anything like this. “Whatever is happening in Karnataka, our party has nothing to do with it. Our party is fully committed to the dignity of parliamentary democracy,” he said.
Having placed his party’s denial on record, Singh next went on to take a sharp swipe at the Congress and its outgoing chief Rahul Gandhi.
“We did not start the practice of resigning. Rahul Gandhi started it,” Rajnath Singh, who is also the deputy leader of the Lok Sabha, said.
Rajnath Singh’s dig at Rahul Gandhi references his decision to step down from the Congress president’s post after leading the party to a crushing defeat in the national elections.
Rahul Gandhi, who first made the offer at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee within days of the Lok Sabha election results, has been adamant about quitting. Gandhi’s insistence to quit the party’s top post has prompted resignations from other Congress leaders as well, initially to pressurize him to withdraw his and later, in a show of solidarity.
“You have seen one senior (Congress) leader after another resigning their post…. What does the BJP have to do with it,” Rajnath Singh said?
The Karnataka government landed itself in the middle of a crisis last week after more than a dozen lawmakers of the ruling coalition – mostly from the Congress –sent in their resignation letters to the Karnataka Assembly speaker.
On Monday, one more lawmaker H Nagesh, Independent MLA from Mulbagal, withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy government within a month of being inducted as a minister.
If the resignations sent to the speaker’s office so far are accepted, the Kumaraswamy government could lose its majority status in the state assembly. As a last-ditch effort to save the coalition government, the Congress’ 21 ministers have resigned from the government to give the party a free hand to accommodate the rebel MLAs into the state cabinet.
For the moment, the Congress plans appear to be to ensure that at least some of the rebel MLAs accept the offer and keep the Kumaraswamy government afloat.