The crisis surrounding the Congress-JD (S) government in Karnataka worsened on Monday after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said he's willing to step down if the Congress party doesn't rein in legislators undermining his authority.
"If they want to continue with the same thing, I am ready to step down. They are crossing the line," Kumaraswamy told the media in Bengaluru.
The chief minister, who had broken down publicly a few weeks ago while speaking about the issues in the coalition, made the statement even as the Opposition BJP is allegedly pulling strings to topple the precariously placed government.
Kumaraswamy's comments referred to a Congress MLA's statement that former chief minister Siddaramaiah is his sole leader.
"Congress MLAs say Siddaramaiah is their leader ... Leaders have to watch out for all these issues. Congress leaders must think about all these things and control them... They are crossing the alliance's line. This is not going to affect me but Congress leaders only," the chief minister added.
Siddaramaiah, the Congress legislature party leader, doesn't enjoy cordial relations with the Gowda clan after his exit from Janata Dal in 2006.
On Sunday, Congress legislators ST Somashekar and MTB Nagaraj said they considered Siddaramaiah their leader.
Exposing the fault lines in the coalition, deputy chief minister G Parameshwara refused to blame the MLAs. He asked if there was any problem if MLAs voiced their opinion. However, the deputy CM said the Congress party was happy with Kumaraswamy. "Siddaramaiah has been the best chief minister. He is our Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader. For the MLA, he (Siddaramaiah) is the Chief Minister. He has expressed his opinion. What is wrong in that? We are all happy with him," he said, according to the Times of India.
The fissures in the coalition have widened even as the Karnataka assembly is set to commence the budget session on February 6. The dust has barely settled after the BJP kicked life into its 'Operation Lotus' earlier this month once again. Both the sides had corralled their legislators in resorts to shield them from competitive horse-trading.
Karnataka assembly convenes on February 6 for the budget session.