Congress rushing 2 senior leaders to Karnataka to check crisis in government
New Delhi: With its government in alliance with the JD-S facing a potential crisis in Karnataka, the Congress is rushing its two senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and K.C. Venugopal to Bengaluru to handle the situation.
Azad and Venugopal will reach Bengaluru on Tuesday evening and are expected to hold discussions with senior state leaders of the alliance like Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of JDS and Congress leaders -- Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameswara, D.K. Sivakumar and Siddaramaiah, sources said here on Tuesday.
Expansion of the Cabinet is also planned to check the possible desertions, they said.
The move comes amidst reported efforts by the BJP to woo potential unhappy MLAs of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress.
In the elections held last year to the 224-member Assembly, the BJP had won 104 seats, becoming the single largest party. However, it was nine seats short of a majority, because of which it could not form the government.
On the other hand, the JDS and Congress forged an alliance, totaling 116 seats and formed the government.
The JDS-Congress alliance suffered a severe setback in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections as it could win only 2 of the 28 seats at stake.
Alarm bells started ringing in the ruling camp after two 'rebel' Karnataka Congress MLAs met BJP's senior leader S.M. Krishna, who was earlier with the Congress, on Sunday.
"Yes, the two Congress legislators - Ramesh Jarkiholi and K. Sudhakar met Krishna at his residence in the city for personal reasons as they both knew him well and the latter was a veteran Congressman till he resigned in early 2018 to join our party," BJP's state unit spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS in Bengaluru.
Jarkiholi, who was dropped from the coalition government on December 24, by the Congress and replaced by his elder brother Satish Jarkiholi, revolted against the party leadership for being ignored and threatened to resign along with a few other rebel legislators in order to take down the government.
Jarkiholi is a three-time lawmaker from Gokak assembly segment in the state's northwest Belagavi district, about 550 km from here.
Sudhakar, a legislator from Chikkaballapura Assembly seat near Bengaluru, has been sulking after he was denied a Cabinet berth.
"Our party has been ridiculed for predicting the imminent fall of the Congress-JD-S government, but we will let our actions speak louder than words hereafter. Just wait and see," hinted Madhusudhan.
Ignoring the party leadership, Jarkiholi also did not campaign for the party's candidates in the recent Lok Sabha elections, in which the Congress retained only one parliamentary constituency (Bangalore Rural) and lost 20 of the 21 seats it contested along with ally JD-S.
Defying the party leadership, Jarkiholi also did not attend the Congress Legislature Party meetings convened by its leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in January and February ahead of the budget session.
Jarkiholi has also been trying to rope in two other rebel party legislators Mahesh Kamtahalli and Bheema Naik to quit the party and join the BJP with him. The BJP is reported to have promised them plum Cabinet posts.
"As the coalition government is surviving on a slender majority of 116 with 113 as the halfway mark for simple majority, resignation of 5-6 Congress or JD-S legislators will reduce it to a minority and a trial strength in the event of a floor test," added Madhusudhan.