Bengaluru: Four disgruntled Congress MLAs, who had gone missing for several weeks amid political turmoil in Karnataka, surfaced here Wednesday two days after the party recommended their disqualification to the state assembly Speaker.
The lawmakers had kept the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings on 18 January and 8 February and had been skipping the ongoing assembly Budget Session since 6 February.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathalli, who were reported to be in touch with the BJP, which has been accused of trying to poach the MLAs to bring down the JD(S)-Congress government, also attended the assembly session Wednesday, giving some relief to the ruling coalition.
The MLAs were upset ever since the cabinet reshuffle and expansion on 22 December that saw removal of Jarkiholi.
Jarkiholi denied that he indulged in anti-party activities or even challenged the party high command. "There is no denying the fact that I was upset, but I neither indulged in anti-party activities nor challenged our party high command. I was in Mumbai for my daughter's marriage that is to take place on 24 February. I was meeting my relatives and in the evening I will be going to Mumbai again," Jarkiholi said.
Asked for his response to CLP leader Siddaramaiah's petition to the Speaker to disqualify him, he said they were free to do so. "Let's see. I had told you before too that I am always ready to resign. If they want to disqualify me, let them do it. I am all alone," Jarkiholi said.
To a question whether he had been in touch with the BJP leaders when he went incommunicado for one-and-half months, he said the BJP leaders were not his enemies, but friends and his differences were restricted only to their ideology.
"I have many friends in the BJP. We politicians are not enemies, but friends. Our differences are limited to party ideologies. On other issues, we are all friends. Me and Umesh Katti (BJP MLA) will go together (to Mumbai) in the evening," Jarkiholi said.
The disgruntled Congress MLA said he has come to attend the assembly session and discuss the problems facing them. He added that he would speak to the party high command and take further steps.
Nagendra too agreed with Jarkiholi that they were upset. "All the four of us are together. It is quite natural that we were upset," Nagendra told reporters.
Jadhav said he did not come here "out of fear", but to ensure that the finance bill was passed. "It is my duty to get the budget passed. Hence, I came here," Jadhav said.
The Congress had petitioned Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Monday, seeking action against the four MLAs after warning them to mend their ways and fall in line.
The four lawmakers skipped the CLP meeting on 18 January,which was meant to be a show of strength in the backdrop of BJP's alleged bid to topple the coalition government, and another CLP meet Friday last, despite a whip. The MLAs were earlier given notices, seeking an explanation for their conduct.
Another Congress MLA J N Ganesh, who was reportedly on the BJP's radar for desertion, is absconding ever since he allegedly assaulted fellow lawmaker Anand Singh during a brawl at a resort recently.
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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2019 19:37:41 IST