The Congress party in Karnataka is seeking to put up a show of strength on Friday at its legislature party meeting later in the day amid reports that some of its MLAs are working with the Bharatiya Janata Party to topple the government. The coalition of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) has claimed that the government is stable and will complete its full term. Elections were held in May 2017.
The Congress has ordered all its MLAs to attend the meeting and warned of disciplinary action against anyone who misses it. Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah said he was confident that all 80 party MLAs would be present.
Over the last two days, the party is believed to have made contact with its missing rebel legislators. However, four legislators – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kamatahalli, Umesh Jadhav, and Pratap Gowda Patil – are still incommunicado, The Hindu reported.
Two reportedly disgruntled Congress MLAs, Shivaram Hebbar and JN Ganesh, have declared their loyalty to the party. B Nagendra, MLA from Ballari district, also said he will stand by the party, but said he may not be able to attend the legislature meeting as he has a court hearing to attend, The Times of India reported.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Vice President BK Chandrashekar told IANS that legislators who did not make it to the meeting may be disqualified from the party.
Cabinet minister DK Shivakumar accused the BJP of trying to create chaos in the state and said the coalition government was stable. “They [the BJP] don’t want stability and don’t want to respect the mandate of the people,” Shivakumar said, according to the Hindustan Times. “They don’t want the arithmetic number to be in good shape. They are trying to orchestrate the situation. However, nothing will happen.”
On Tuesday, two independent legislators withdrew their support to the coalition government. The ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition now has support of 116 legislators in the 224-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly, while the BJP has 104 MLAs. The majority mark is 113.
The BJP has denied allegations that it offered money to Congress MLAs and cabinet berths to defect. “Was there any deal when all of them changed sides?” state BJP general secretary CT Ravi told The Telegraph. “The problem is, this government lacks a popular mandate. We won 104 seats but you are running the government because of simple arithmetic. The dissidence is within your party. Don’t blame us if your MLAs fail to respect you.”
Karnataka BJP President and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa claimed that the Congress had failed in its responsibility to remain united. “It is far from the truth that we are causing confusion in the Congress-JD(S) coalition,” Yeddyurappa said. “We 104 people [BJP MLAs] are together and one. Our only intention is to win 20 Lok Sabha seats [in Karnataka] and we are making preparations for it.”
Meanwhile, Congress workers on Thursday staged a protest in Bengaluru against alleged horse-trading protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party, ANI reported.