Furthering deepening the political crisis in Karnataka, four dissident Congress MLAs on Friday skipped the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting that was convened yesterday (Jan 19) in an attempted show of strength by the party against an alleged bid by the BJP to destabilize the H D Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government. Two independent MLAs H Nagesh from Mulbagal and former minister R Shankar (Ranebennur) have already withdrawn support to the coalition government.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and CLP leader Siddaramaiah told reporters after the CLP meeting that Congress would initiate disciplinary action against the four absentee MLAs -- Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli. Siddaramaiah had earlier threatened his party MLAs with the anti-defection law if they skipped the meet but to no avail.
Admitting that the ‘government is in danger’, Chief Minister H.D Kumaraswamy claimed that BJP will not succeed in poaching MLAs. News18 quoted H.D. Kumaraswamy as saying “Currently that is there (political crisis)…they (BJP) are trying to put the government in danger but I am not perturbed. They are doing the mischief by mobilizing MLAs but they will not succeed.” Kumaraswamy also blamed the crisis on inability of Congress to manage its internal politics in Belgaum and claimed that four dissident Congress MLAs share a very relationship with him and will not desert the government.
Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa claimed that deep differences between the ruling coalition partners and discontent brewing among Congress legislators is a clear indication that a political volcano may erupt in the coming days.
"The absence of Congress MLAs from the CLP meeting and deep differences between the coalition partners are an indication that this is likely to erupt as a volcano in the next coming days," Yeddyurappa said late Friday evening in Bengaluru. Their absence also shows intense and widespread anger and resentment among Congress MLAs, he added.
Yeddyurappa, who was closetted with BJP MLAs in a Gurugram resort for the last four days strategising the party’s next moves, returned to Bengaluru to visit the ailing Siddaganga Mutt seer Shivakumara Swamiji in Tumakuru on Thursday.
Yeddyurappa also said that all BJP legislators will return on Saturday from Gurugram where they were lodged for the last few days. “All our MLAs have been directed to return to the state,"Yeddyurappa informed the media. He also rubbished claims that his party was trying to "destabilise" the coalition government as alleged by the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). Yeddyurappa added that the BJP's MLAs assembled at a Gurgaon resort to discuss the strategy to win the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and that party was not trying to engineer defections as alleged by the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
According to political observers in the state, Yeddyurappa may be working on carefully crafted strategy to destabilize the coalition government. With six legislators already signalling withdrawal of support to the government, the BJP may move to precipitate the crisis further, by convincing four more legislators put in their papers in the next phase. Another option would be to ask few disgruntled legislators to cross-vote in the event of a floor test. According to state BJP sources, besides Yeddyurappa, only three others in the state unit of the party, Jagadish Shettar, Aravind Limbavali and Shobha Karandalje , are in know of the party’s strategy.
Senior Congress leader from Belgaum district Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was ousted from the H D Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) cabinet, ostensibly on the grounds of “poor performance”, has emerged as the focal point of a large-scale rebellion that has hit the party after much delayed Cabinet reshuffle last month. He has support of at least six disgruntled Congress legislators.
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