With the BJP summoning all its MLAs to the state capital on Wednesday, the rumours of coup have been making the rounds. On the other hand, CM HD Kumaraswamy, on Tuesday, met Jarkhiholi brothers, the powerful Congress MLAs. After an hour-long meeting, they declared their support for the Kumaraswamy government and said there is no question of going with the BJP.
Ramesh Jarkhiholi, a minister in the state government, is reportedly in touch with the BJP top leadership through Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. His brother and MLA Satish Jarkhiholi is an AICC secretary and a former minister. They have the support of at least 10-12 MLAs who, sources say, are ready to switch sides.
But the people close to Satish Jarkhiholi claim that he is ideologically against the BJP and is highly unlikely to switch sides. “Satish has been summoned to New Delhi by Rahul Gandhi. If Rahul manages to convince him, the government will not fall,” said a senior leader of the Congress. Former CM Siddaramaiah, who was asked by the party high command to keep the flock together, also met the brothers. Insiders claim that all is not well and it is a temporary truce.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has summoned top leaders of the party to New Delhi for an urgent strategy meeting to save the government.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) registering a money laundering case against the Water Resources minister and a powerful leader in the party DK Shivakumar on Tuesday has set off alarm bells in the Congress circles. The party leaders claim that the BJP at the Centre is misusing investigative agencies to intimidate Congress leaders using “illegal and unconstitutional” means. The BJP has dismissed the allegations, claiming the “shaky” coalition will soon bite the dust on its own.
The Jarkhiholi brothers are opposing Shivakumar’s interference in Belgaum district politics and the Congress leaders have assured them that they will rein the latter in.
State BJP president and former CM BS Yeddyurappa has dismissed the charges that his party was planning to dislodge the Kumaraswamy government. Speaking to media he said that all 104 BJP MLAs would be in Bengaluru on Wednesday to chalk out party’s strategy for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and he was not interested in “horse-trading”.
After the BJP’s alleged efforts to woo some Congress and JD(S) MLAs by offering them money and ministerial positions became public, the worried combine has been holding a series of meetings to counter any coup attempts.
Siddaramaiah, who returned from a two-week Europe tour on Sunday, held a series of meetings with party MLAs, who are reportedly unhappy with the JD(S)-led government.
According to insiders, Siddaramaiah has pacified them and asked them not to “fall prey to the BJP” for power and money. On Monday, he held a few more meetings to take stock of the situation.
AICC Karnataka in-charge KC Venugopal had met Siddaramaiah on Sunday along with deputy CM Dr G Parameshwara and KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao to discuss the party strategy to prevent the possible poaching of its MLAs. They alleged that the BJP is making “desperate attempts” to place its own government after toppling the current one and that both the JD(S) and Congress are fully aware of it.
Speaking to News18, Siddaramaiah said, “We have done well in the recently held Urban Local Body (ULB) elections. It has caused a big worry to the BJP at the Centre. If we continue in power till the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP will be reduced to a single digit in Karnataka. Because of that, they are trying to topple the government by offering huge money and ministerial posts to our MLAs. But we are united and the BJP won’t succeed. Media is adding fuel to fire by running imaginary stories about the imminent fall of our coalition government”.
Rumour mills are abuzz that the BJP is targeting 15 Congress and JDS MLAs to bring the strength of the state Assembly down to 207 from the current strength of 222. “They have managed to convince 5-6 of our MLAs. But they are finding it difficult to reach the target,” a close aide of the chief minister told News18.
Senior JD(S) MLA HK Kumaraswamy’s wife Chanchala has also dropped a bombshell by claiming that two BJP leaders offered her husband Rs 30 crore and a ministerial berth to defect and that he flatly refused to ditch the JD(S). One more Congress MLA Anil Chikkamadhu has also made similar allegations against the BJP.
Meanwhile, the BJP is planning house all its MLAs in a resort to prevent the JD(S)-Congress from poaching some of their MLAs after Kumaraswamy claimed that 5-6 BJP MLAs were in touch with him and would resign from the saffron party, said a source. State BJP spokesperson S Prakash has rubbished these claims as far-fetched.
State BJP president BS Yeddyurappa told News18 that the JDS-Congress government was counting its last days in office and that it would collapse without the BJP making any efforts to topple the government. He also met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Bengaluru, on Tuesday.
In the 224-member Assembly, the Congress has 79 MLAs and the JD(S) has 38. Two Independents are also backing the government. The BJP has 104 MLAs. Two seats are vacant.