Bangalore: Karnataka's BJP government Wednesday was in deep crisis as two ministers quit the cabinet and 13 party legislators, including the two ministers, announced they will resign from the assembly too.
Public Works Minister C.M. Udasi and Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje, loyalists of former BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, submitted their resignations to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar here.
The plan of the 13 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators to quit the assembly did not materialise as Speaker K.G. Bopaiah was not present in his office, though, as Udasi said, he had been "informed" that resignation letters would be submitted to him Wednesday.
After waiting in the speaker's chamber for over an hour, Udasi led the legislators to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and briefed him about the absence of the speaker and submitted copies of the resignation letters to him.
Bhardwaj "assured" the legislators that he would take action as per constitution, Udasi told reporters at Raj Bhavan.
Karandlaje said the BJP had ensured the speaker's absence.
"Our information is that a cabinet minister escorted the speaker to the airport last night (Tuesday). We have requested the governor for a probe and protection to us," she added.
Karandlaje said the legislators had appealed to the governor to ensure that their resignation letters be accepted immediately.
The 13 legislators are staunch followers of Yeddyurappa and will join his new outfit Karnataka Janata Party (KJP).
Their resignation from the assembly is aimed at preventing Shettar from presenting the 2013-14 budget as that could help the BJP in the assembly elections due in May.
The resignations, if accepted, would bring down BJP's strength in the 225-member assembly to 105 from 118, including the speaker. The ruling party has the support of one independent member, who is a cabinet minister.
Udasi claimed that another four to five legislators were also ready to quit the assembly and they would soon do so.
Now the focus is both on the governor and the steps the BJP would take to ensure the survival of the Shettar ministry which took over only in July last year.
The governor is expected to ask Shettar to prove his majority in the assembly which is to meet Feb 4-13 for budget presentation.
The combined opposition -- the Congress (71) and Janata Dal-Secular (26) -- strength is 97. There are six other Independents. One is a nominated member while two seats are vacant.
If more than 20 BJP legislators quit the assembly, the BJP would have to muster support from the independents for the trust vote. Or hope that either the Congress or the JD-S or both walk out of the assembly ahead of the trust vote.
Shettar is yet take a decision on the resignation of the two ministers as he left on a two-day tour of north Karnataka soon after receiving the quit letters.
He told reporters that he would take decision after "considering them (the letters)".
State BJP chief and Deputy Chief Minister K.S. Eshwarappa continued to maintain a brave front in the face of the deep crisis and told reporters in Bangalore that there was no threat to the Shettar ministry.
"Our government will last till the end of the term and Shettar will present the budget on Feb 8," he said declining to elaborate on steps the BJP would take to overcome the crisis.
The absence of Bopaiah also irked Yeddyurappa, who lashed out at his former party and Chief Minister Shettar over the development.
"This is a shameless government. The speaker is not present even though he had been informed. He should be brought back within 24 hours," he told reporters outside the speaker's chamber in Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat in the heart of the city.
He also demanded that Shettar return to Bangalore immediately and quit as he has "lost majority". Yeddyurappa appealed to people to "gherao" (lay siege to) Shettar to force him to return to Bangalore.