A phone call and a former Janata Dal (Secular) leader who is now in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may have played a crucial role in convincing former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati to instruct her party’s lone lawmaker to back the coalition government in Karnataka, said people with knowledge of the developments.
A day before the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka faces a trust vote in the assembly, BSP MLA N Mahesh told local reporters in Bengaluru on Sunday he wouldn’t attend the assembly.
Soon after, former prime minister Deve Gowda called former JD(S) general secretary and now BSP Lok Sabha MP, Danish Ali. The call, placed at about 6pm, was a plea for help and both chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and his father asked for the Uttar Pradesh MP’s intervention, said people in the know on condition of anonymity.
After the phone call, the people quoted above added, Ali went and met the BSP chief at her residence in New Delhi. The JD(S) and the BSP had fought the 2018 assembly elections in alliance.
Danish Ali didn’t comment on these developments and said, “Behenji [as Mayawati is known to her followers] has directed the MLA to vote for the Karnataka government and also tweeted the same.’’
The people quoted above said the BSP was not leaving anything to chance and one leader also flew to Bengaluru on Sunday night to ensure that Mahesh attended the assembly and voted for Kumaraswamy.
Stung by the resignation of 16 rebel lawmakers and withdrawal of support by two independent legislators, the state government is staring down the barrel and is likely to be in a minority if all the letters demitting office are accepted by speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has the support of 105 MLAs while the coalition has the backing of 100 legislators, excluding the speaker. The two independents are expected to back the saffron party.
BJP state chief BS Yedyurappa appeared unfazed by Sunday’s development. “We have enough numbers,’’ he said.
A spokesperson for the JDS-Congress government said, “It is a photo finish, you cannot write us off.’’
Congress state chief Dinesb Gundu Rao said, “Overall, it helps us but we are confident of our numbers,”
Mayawati’s support to the coalition comes on the back of frosty relations with the Congress over collapsed alliance negotiations in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan before assembly elections in the two states late last year. The people quoted above said the Congress didn’t contact the BSP on the issue.