In a major setback to the seven month-old JD(S)-Congress coalition government led by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, two independent legislators R Shankar and H Nagesh withdrew their support even as the whereabouts of the three Congress MLAs remain unknown. However, BJP lawmakers are reported to be lodged in a luxury hotel in Gurugram.
The latest development comes amid an ongoing political war between the coalition partners JD-S and Congress on the one hand and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the other over alleged poaching of Congress legislators by the BJP.
Even though CM Kumaraswamy, his deputy G Parameshwara and the Working President of state Congress claimed that there was no threat to the government, it could portend difficult days ahead for it as the nearly 100 MLAs of BJP stayed put in the hotel and remained incommunicado.
"I had extended support to the JD-S-Congress coalition expecting good governance but have been disappointed," Shankar told the media.
A legislator from Ranebennur Assembly segment in Haveri district, Shankar belongs to the regional Karnataka Pragnavantha Janata Party while Nagesh is an Independent from Mulbagal constituency in Kolar district.
The two Independents shared with the media their letter to Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R. Vala withdrawing their support to the coalition.
Senior Congress leader K.C. Venugopal, who is incharge of BJP affairs in Karnataka, told reporters in Bengaluru that he was confident of the Independents rethinking their decision.
"The Independents have every right to withdraw their support, but we're confident they will be with us," Venugopal said after a meeting with state unit Congress leaders.
Kumaraswamy was unfazed. "I know my strength. We are in touch, why do you worry," he asked journalists.
He was referring to the three Congress MLAs including Ramesh Jharkiholi, a senior leader who is now sulking after being dropped from the Cabinet recently.
Congress leader and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara accused the BJP of trying to "topple" a "stable" government.
"The BJP is trying to sway the legislators with money power. Their aim is to topple the government, but we are confident of retaining our stability as we have the support of all our legislators," Parameshwara told the media in Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, the BJP has denied the poaching allegations, it has kept 99 of its 104 legislators at a private resort in Gurugram, adjoining the national capital, state unit spokesman Vamanacharya said.
"A total of 99 legislators are currently at a private resort, while the other five are in Delhi and in touch with us," he told IANS here.
The hotel where the MLAs were put up remained out of bounds for journalists.
The saffron party also ejected Congress' allegation that it is trying to topple seven-month-old Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka and hit back at opposition parties calling the current crisis their "internal problems".
"We are not doing any game. Why we should topple if they themselves are toppling their government? It is their problem. They have their internal problems and unnecessarily blaming us," BJP General Secretary and party's in-charge for Karnataka P. Muralidhar Rao told IANS.
A major political drama unfolded on Monday when over 100 lawmakers from both the sides went missing on Sunday. While BJP flew its 100-odd lawmakers to Delhi and later to a resort in neighbouring Gurgaon, alleging that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy was trying to split it ranks, the Congress has claimed that the incident of its 'missing' lawmakers is a proof that the BJP has launched 'Operation Lotus'. The term was first used in 2008, when the saffron party was accused of inciting several opposition legislators to defect to ensure the stability of its government headed by BS Yeddyurappa.
In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has 104 members, Congress-79, JDS 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each, besides Speaker. BSP, KPJP and an Independent are supporting the coalition.
Meanwhile, a Twitter war has broke out between former CM aand Congress strongman Siddaramaiah and the BJP.
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Siddaramaiah launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him whether his slogan 'Saaf Niyat' (Clean intention) meant a coup and grabbing power.
The former chief minister was active on Twitter from the morning, attacking the BJP as it became clear to theCongress leadership that independent MLA H Nagesh fromMulabagal and the lone MLA of rookie Karnataka PrajnyavantaJanata Paksha R Shankar from Rane Bennur constituency Tuesday would withdraw support to the coalition government and align with BJP.
"Mr. Saaf Niyat @narendramodi, Is allowing your disgraceful @BJP4Karnataka leaders to destabilise govt a 'Saaf Niyat' towards democracy? Your PR slogans don't hide your actual 'Niyat' & your 'Sahi Vikas' should go beyond developing Resorts. First, show your Niyat to people!!" Siddaramaiah tweeted.
Taunting BJP leaders for huddling their MLAs in a resort as they had done in the past, Siddaramaiah said the BJP always hadGandha Niyat (bad intention) and 'Resort Vikas' (promoting resort politics).
He also took a dig at 'Operation Lotus', the alleged attempt to destabilise the government.
"@BJP4India has a legacy of 'Gandha Niyat, Resort Vikas'. Their 'Operation Kamala' is not new & they will indulge whenever they feel politically threatened. Recent miserableloss in 5 states is the result of their ongoing attempt inKarnataka which will fail #GandhaNiyatResortVikas," he said.
In a Kannada tweet, Siddaramaiah mocked the Prime Minister, asking him whether guarding the BJP MLAs in a resort was his role as Chowkidar (watchman).
"Dear watchman prime minister Narendra Modi, you had called yourself as the watchman of the nation. You have now become a watchman to guard the MLAs of Karnataka in a hotel."
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Hitting back, BJP tweeted, "You seem to have completely lost it after you were booted out in#KarnatakaElections.
Remember how your party locked up yourown MLA's in resorts just few months back, Who was then threatened? Certainly not BJP. Your greed to have control over Congress is today backfiring."
To Siddaramaiah's 'Saaf Niyat' jibe, the BJP tweeted, "Disgraceful is when you form government even after been rejected by people of Karnataka. Lack of Niyat & Vikas in your unholy alliance is a result of crippled govt. Stop blaming BJP& Modi to hide your failure to save your existence. Your greedhas crippled @hd_kumaraswamy's govt"
Venting her outburst, BJP MP from Udupi Chikkamagaluru, Shobha Karandlaje tweeted, "Does the man who masterminded Operation Hasta have any credibility to comment on PM??!! The same man got 8 MLA's defected with unethical ways, and now Speaking about Gandha Niyat??!!! It's known to all how 'Gandha' is the Niyat of @siddaramaiah, who practices opportunism."