“They Fought Like Tigers”, DK Shivakumar Backs Karnataka Rebels Before Floor Test

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DK Shivakumar travelled to Mumbai last week to meet rebels holed up in a five-star hotel

New Delhi:

Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar, who last week went to Mumbai to convince rebel lawmakers to return to the fold, expressed confidence today that his party colleagues would vote in favour of the Congress-JDS government in tomorrow's floor test. "I have confidence in all our MLAs. They have been elected from the Congress and have fought like tigers in their domain," the Congress' Mr Fixit told news agency ANI.

"At the time of Confidence Motion they're also well-equipped with law. If they vote against Confidence Motion, they'll lose their membership. Our MLAs won't let down the party," he said.

Monday's floor test has been made necessary by the resignation of 16 legislators and two independents, a development that has threatened to topple the HD Kumaraswamy government.

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If these resignations are accepted, the coalition strength drops from 118 to 100 and will bring the majority mark in the assembly from 113 to 105. The BJP has 107, with the support of the two independents, will emerge as the majority alliance.

"There may be some issues. Congress party is going to sit down with them and settle their demands. We have an open mind. We don't want to rob them. After all, in family it all happens," he said, adding he was getting "signals" at least some of the rebelling legislators would return to "save the government".

DK Shivakumar, who has led the Congress' fight for survival in Karnataka, travelled to Mumbai last week to meet rebels holed up in a five-star hotel. Mr Shivakumar camped outside, drinking coffee and eating momos after being stopped from entering by Mumbai Police, and was then "escorted" to the airport.

His work as a negotiator led to a small win yesterday, with Congress leader MTB Nagaraj announcing he would withdraw his resignation. "Situation was such we submitted our resignations, but now DK Shivakumar requested us to withdraw resignations. After all, I have spent decades in the Congress," the lawmaker from Hoskote said.

Today, however, MTB Nagaraj has been spotted leaving for Mumbai with aide to BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa in tow, in a development that suggests DK Shivakumar still has work to do.

None of the resignations have so far been accepted by Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar. The Supreme Court, approached by a group of 10 of the rebels, directed yesterday that status quo remain till it rules on constitutional matters on July 16.

In preparation for the test of strength, the Congress and JDS, as well as the BJP, have ferried their lawmakers from one five-star hotel and resort to another, to stop "poaching" attempts.

With input from ANI

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