After four days of intense political drama over allegations of MLA poaching and horse trading, Friday is set to be a decisive day for the Karnataka Congress as the party will take stock of its tally by calling a meeting of its MLAs.
The Congress has asked all its MLAs to meet at the Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru on Friday. The party has issued a whip that any MLA who fails to turn up for the meeting will be expelled from the party and will face action under the anti-defection law. However, it was reported that despite the whip, four Congress MLAs are likely to skip the event.
The whole issue had erupted after four miffed Congress MLAs stayed at a Mumbai hotel and during their stay, the hotel was reportedly frequented by top Karnataka BJP leaders. However, on Thursday, the Congress claimed that the four MLAs were still its members and will attend the meeting on Friday. "All MLAs will take part in this meeting. The small issues will be solved by our senior leaders. Our MLAs won't go to the BJP," Karnataka minister UT Khader told India Today.
Meanwhile, Congress carried out a demonstration at Maurya Circle in Bengaluru against alleged horse trading attempts by BJP and was attended by senior leaders including BK Hariprasad, Easwar Khendre, UT Khader, HK Patil, among others. "Operation Lotus has failed. There is no question of our MLAs being disqualified as they all will attend the meeting tomorrow," the report quoted Easwar Khendre as saying.
On the other hand, BJP MLAs from Karnataka have been lodged at a resort in Haryana's Gurugram. However, some senior BJP leaders, including former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, returned to Bengaluru on Thursday evening. Speaking to the media, the Karnataka BJP chief said, "There was no operation nor was there any attempt at horse trading. The Karnataka BJP MLAs were taken to the resort to relax. This was to prepare for the Lok Sabha polls. My only advice to the Congress and JDS is to keep their MLAs together. I cannot be blamed." Yeddyurappa also said that he was not bothered about the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting. “They are saying so many things, I am not responsible for that,” he said.
Attacking Congress leaders for blaming the BJP for the political turmoil in the state, Yeddyurappa had on Thursday said: "The true colours" of the Congress would be revealed at its legislature party meeting on Friday.
However, senior Congress leaders in Karnataka asserted on Friday that there was no threat to the coalition government in the southern state while hitting out at the BJP for making "futile attempts" to destabilise it, saying the saffron party's conspiracy had been "exposed". "All are in contact, you cannot say that any one person is not in contact...you (media) had listed out the names of those who may switch from the party. Most of them have come, the others will also come," Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the CLP meeting, he said, "Let whatever happen, there is no threat to this government. It will complete five years. The BJP is making futile attempts to destabilise the government." Rao also said that he felt "pity" for the BJP leaders who are locked in the Gurugram resort. "There is no threat to this government... whatever they may try to do, the government cannot be toppled. The BJP's conspiracy has been exposed. Wait and watch what will happen in the days to come," he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy met Congress general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal on Friday and held discussions on the ongoing developments. "They (BJP leaders) will keep continuing with their 'Operation Kamala' (lotus). I am not bothered about it. It is (state BJP chief) Yeddyurappa's duty," Kumaraswamy told reporters.
Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara also reiterated that all the Congress MLAs will attend the meeting. Parameshwara said, “...all of them will come for the meeting, they have spoken to us, we will discuss at the meeting.” Stating that the agenda of the CLP was yet to be decided, Parameshwara said two-three issues like the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and the political developments in the state will be discussed.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “We’re confident everybody is going to be there. We’re confident of our numbers. We’re confident of the stability of this government." "We extend a hearty welcome to all Karnataka BJP MLAs who are returning home after an extended holiday at a luxury resort near Delhi," Rao quipped. "Now that they are sufficiently rejuvenated, let us hope they will attend to the work of their constituencies which they have neglected for long."
In the 224-member Karnataka Legislative Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress has 79, JD(S) 37 and BSP, KPJP and Independent one each, besides the Speaker. Two Independents had earlier withdrawn support from the coalition government.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 18, 2019 17:46:02 IST