Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and former Karnataka minister Umesh Katti has claimed that the HD Kumaraswamy government in the state will collapse within 24 hours and the saffron party will form government in the state next week, The New Indian Express reported on Thursday. Katti claimed that at least 15 disgruntled Congress MLAs were in touch with him and would join the BJP soon.

This comes at a time a group of Congress rebels headed by MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi are threatening to topple the coalition government of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress by quitting their Assembly seats. Jarkiholi was removed from the state cabinet last week.

“Ramesh is my good friend,” Katti told reporters in Belagavi. “He is regularly in touch with me ever since he was removed from the Cabinet. At least 15 MLAs led by Ramesh will meet BJP National President Amit Shah shortly.”

The BJP MLA, however, said the party would not engineer defections, PTI reported. “We will welcome those who are pained in Congress and JD(S) and want to join our party,” he added. “If they come, we will induct them into our party and form the government.”

BJP state President BS Yeddyurappa, meanwhile, said the party was not in touch with disgruntled Congress legislators. “If they are fighting internally, let us wait and watch what will happen at the end...till now no one has contacted us, nor we have contacted anybody and we do not require it also...” he told reporters in Bengaluru.

State Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao asked Katti not to confuse people by making “illusionary statements”. He said the BJP MLA should resign if the rebel Congress legislators do not join the saffron party.

In Assembly elections held in May, the BJP had emerged the single largest party with 104 seats in the 225-member Assembly, but Congress and the JD(S) formed the government after forging a post-poll coalition.