Bengaluru: The Congress, an ally in Karnataka's ruling coalition, got a jolt on Monday when its legislator Umesh Jadhav resigned from his assembly and was set to soon join the opposition BJP.
Jadhav, a two-time MLA from Chincholi in the state's northern Kalaburagi district, submitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar without any explanation.
"Jadhav submitted his resignation letter to Kumar earlier in the day at the latter's house at Srinivasapura in Kolar district near Bengaluru," a Congress leader told IANS here.
Hours later, a BJP leader told IANS that Jadhav would join the party on Wednesday at Kalaburagi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a massive party rally ahead of the general elections, due in April-May.
"Jadhav, who has been unhappy with the Congress, will join the BJP at Kalaburagi prior to the party rally to be addressed by Modi or in his presence on the dais," said party spokesman G. Madhusudhan.
The Speaker is, however, yet to accept Jadhav's resignation, as a February 11 letter from Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah to disqualify him from the party under the anti-defection law is pending with Kumar after the legislator defying the party's whip and skipped the 10-day budget session for the first five days from February 6-13.
"If the Speaker accepts Jadhav's resignation, the Chincholi assembly bye-election will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections to 28 seats across the state," said the official.
The Congress strength in the Assembly will reduce to 78, excluding the Speaker, who got elected on a Congress ticket from Srinivasapra in Kolar, about 100km from here.
"The Congress has done everything it could with Jadhav. He was power hungry and has been dissenting against the party's leadership. He is an opportunist. We are disappointed with him," state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao told the media.
In the 225-member House, including one nominated, the Congress has 80 members, its ruling ally Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 37, opposition Bharatiya Janata Party 104, one independent, and one each from the BSP and regional outfit KPJP.
A keen contest is in the fray in case the BJP decides to field Jadhav against outgoing Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge from the Kalaburagi seat as the latter is a dominant Dalit leader.
Regretting Jadhav's resignation, state working president Eshwar Khandre, who hails from Bidar in the northern region, said the former had spoiled his political future by leaving the Congress and waiting to join the BJP.
"There will be no effect of Jadhav leaving the Congress on the 9-month-old coalition government in the state as the allies have 116 members in the House, which are 3 above the 113 simple majority," Khandre asserted.