The JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka on Thursday suffered a minor setback when the lone Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) minister N Mahesh announced his resignation from Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s cabinet. Mahesh was in charge of the Primary and School Education ministry. According to a report in The Indian Express, Mahesh stepped down citing ‘personal reasons’ but said that he will continue to support the ruling dispensation.
After submitting his resignation to the CM, Mahesh, a lawmaker from Kollegal seat, told reporters that he has resigned to focus on work being done in his constituency. The BSP leader said that he will also work on strengthening the party in the state and growing its base ahead of the general elections.
“There had been a campaign against me in my constituency that I have camped in Bengaluru and was not focusing on Kollegal. Also, there was a need to strengthen the party base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections,” Mahesh said.
Mahesh added that during the upcoming bypolls for 3 Lok Sabha and 2 Assembly seats, he will campaign for the JD(S). The bypolls to the Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats will be held on November 3.
When quizzed further about his decision to resign and whether he was asked to step down, he said: “I do not have any grouse against anybody in the government. As a minister I did my best and toured across the state. This resignation is purely due to personal reasons.”
Interestingly, Mahesh’s resignation comes at a time when BSP supremo Mayawati has been very critical to the Congress. Most recently, she had announced to contest the Assembly polls solo in the BJP-ruled states (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) where elections will be held in November-December. With the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav also set to align forces with the Mayawati’s BSP, the move was seen as a chink in the armour for the Congress’ attempts to stitch together a united opposition to challenge Modi.
Another report in The Indian Express claimed that the MLA quit the government following instructions from Mayawati. Citing JD(S) sources who held talks with Mahesh post-resignation, the report said that the decision was a part of Mayawati’s attempts to maintain distance from the Congress in the run-up to the upcoming Assembly polls and general elections in 2019.
“It seems that he did not want to quit but was asked to do so by Mayawati who wants to maintain a distance from the Congress. The pressure to quit has been on for nearly a month is what we understand,’’ the sources told IE.
The Bahujan Samaj Party had won 1 seat out of 18 seats it had contested in the Assembly elections earlier this year. The JD(S) of Kumaraswamy has 37 MLAs. The party formed the government under the leadership of Kumaraswamy after the Congress offered unconditional support to it. The Congress has 78 MLAs in the currently Assembly and is the second largest party.