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Karnataka MLAs poaching: Congress claims it established contact with 'missing MLAs'; calls legislative party meet on 18 Jan

Faced with a possible crisis in the Karnataka Assembly, the Congress party is busy staving off a rebellion in its state unit as all its MLAs were asked to join an informal meeting on Wednesday. The Congress has accused the BJP of launching a poaching drive, 'Operation Kamal', to topple the Congress-JD(S) alliance government in the state.

Reports said that the party has reached out to the two Independents and four rebel party MLAs who have been staying at a resort in Mumbai. The party has promised them some positions, asking them to reconsider their decisions.

 Karnataka MLAs poaching: Congress claims it established contact with missing MLAs; calls legislative party meet on 18 Jan

Representational image. AFP

KH Muniyappa, Congress MP appealed to the rebel party leaders through the media: "I invite all who left the fold to come back and not worry. Second generation Congressmen who won election must not feel insecure. Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal are aware of your grievances, you will be given chance in next cabinet expansion."

The Congress has formally called a legislative party meeting on 18 January in Bengaluru, where the exact count of party MLAs still supporting the alliance government will become clear. The party expects to pacify the rebels within this time and bring them back to the party folds.

Meanwhile, former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa held a meeting with the BJP MLAs, all of whom are camped at a hotel in Gurugram since Monday. The two parties have been levelling poaching allegations on each other ever since.

On Tuesday, Congress leader Zameer Ahmed told reporters: "Four-five of our party MLAs are in Mumbai. We will not sit silently if attempts of poaching are made. Even we are in touch with some BJP MLAs. We had spoken to two-three of our MLAs, while the other MLAs' phones are off. I can assure, you no one will leave."

Kumaraswamy, meanwhile, said that the missing MLAs were in touch with the representatives of the government. He exuded confidence that his government remains in majority.

The Congress leaders also claimed that they have managed to get back in touch with even those MPs who are lodged in the Powai-based hotel. Venugopal said, "I'm in touch with all our MLAs. This drama is going to end in a day or a two. We are all together, there is no internal fight in Congress. This is all baseless."

DK Shivakumar had on Sunday claimed that three Congress MLAs were camping at the hotel in the "company of some BJP leaders". "We are aware of what has transpired there and how much has been offered to them," Shivakumar had said.

In the 224-member Assembly, JD(S) has 37 MLAs and its coalition partner has 80. It has the support of some Independents in the House where the majority figure is 113.

The withdrawal of support by the two Independent MLAs will not affect the stability of the government but if reports are to be believed, at least 11 disgruntle Congress MLAs got in touch with the BJP of which four to five people are still beyond Congress leaders' reach. If these MLAs resign and bring down the strength of the Assembly, then it might spell trouble for the alliance government.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2019 15:05:52 IST