Amid the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka, the crucial Congress Legislature Party (CLP) was held in Bengaluru on Friday. However, four Congress MLAs - Umesh Jadhav, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli and B Nagendra - are not attending the crucial meeting giving the party jitters.
The meet was being seen as a show of strength for the Congress, in a counter to BJP's alleged toppling bid which the ruling coalition has said has turned out to be a "flop". In a notice issued to Congress MLAs, CLP leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah warned that absence of MLAs at Friday's meeting would be viewed "seriously".
'Curious' case of missing legislators in K'nataka; BJP alleges horse-trading, Cong claims Operation Lotus 2.0
"I would like to bring to your notice that your absence will be viewed seriously and it will be considered that you have voluntarily decided to leave the primary membership of the Indian National Congress," he said and added that action would be initiated under the Anti-Defection Law .
Speaking to reporters at Hubballi, Siddaramaiah claimed that all the party MLAs would attend the CLP meeting. Asked if disgruntled MLAs coming back into the party fold would be made ministers, Siddaramaiah said, "We have not told anyone that we will make them minister or any other thing. There is no disgruntlement in the Congress."
He also hit out at the BJP and alleged that the party has failed to work as opposition in the state. BJP has no right to talk about Congress. BJP has failed to work as opposition in the state. it is doing anti-democracy rather than working as opposition.”
WHAT HAPPENED THROUGHOUT THE DAY:
5:45 pm: 75 Congress MLAs attend legislators party meeting. MLA Umesh Jadhav writes a letter saying he won't be able to attend the meeting due to ill health.
5:08 pm: Four Congress MLAs skip crucial party meeting in Bengaluru. Umesh Jadhav, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli and B Nagendra not present in meeting.
Bengaluru: Congress MLAs present at Karnataka Congress Legislature Party meeting pic.twitter.com/aWD42DlnAt— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2019
1:40 pm: BJP not responsible for confusion in Congress-JD(S) coalition, says BS Yeddyurappa. "It is far from the truth that we are causing confusion in the Congress-JD(S) coalition. We 104 people (BJP MLAs) are together and one. Our only intention is to win 20 Lok Sabha seats (in Karnataka) and we are making preparations for it," Yeddyurappa said.
12:10 pm: Siddaramaiah has dismissed the allegations of threatening levelled by BS Yeddyurappa. Speaking to ANI, he said; " I spoke to Satish Jarkiholi to call Ramesh Jarkiholi and call him for CLP meet. I'm not ordering them it's BJP's allegation. Yeddyurappa was chief minister and has been alleging against me of poaching. Does he have any self respect?"
11:55 am: According to reports, three Congress legislators are still believed to be in Mumbai.
11:40 am: Meanwhile, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parmeshwara said that the the discussions will be held on various topics including the current political scenario in the state and the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. Lashing out at BS Yeddyurappa he said; "Yeddyurappa is president of BJP, he need not worry about Congress MLAs, all of our MLAs will attend the CLP meeting. The pathetic thing is that BJP stooped to this level, they approached our MLAs and are still doing it but they'll not succeed".
11:33 am: On the other hand, Yeddyurappa said that he was not at all bothered about the Congress Legislature Party Meeting. "They're telling many things, I'm not responsible for that. Our 104 MLAs are worried about our party and preparing for Lok Sabha elections.", he said.
11:15 am: In a breather to the Congress on Thursday, more MLAs who had allegedly gone incommunicado and were on the poaching list of BJP, surfaced. Yellapur MLA Shivram Hebbar who met KPCC chief Dinesh Gunduu Rao said he had gone to Andaman and Nicobar Islands with family, as per the plan made about a month ago.
Another Congress MLA JN Ganesh from Kampli termed reports that he had planned to switch to BJP as a ‘creation’ and ‘false’. Congress MLA from Ballari B Nagendra said he was in Mumbai for personal reasons, business and other things.
BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa on Thursday arrived in Bengaluru amid allegations of trying to destabilise the coalition government in Karnataka. On arrival, he asserted his party was not involved in any operation to topple the Congress-JD(S) government while adding that his party MLAs were also flying back from Gurugram, where they are staying for the past few days.
Earlier, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had slammed the BJP for making ‘futile attempts’ to destabilise his government and accused it of keeping own MLAs in ‘confinement’ at Gurugram. Speaking to reporters, Kumaraswamy said Yeddyurappa making repeated claims that Congress-JD(S) leaders, were luring his party MLAs, was ‘surprising’ for him.
“…Today I want to ask Yeddyurappa and his friends, how long have you been staying at a hotel in Gurugram, for what sake have you kept MLAs in confinement?” Kumaraswamy asked while accusing the BJP of ‘doing everything’ to poach coalition MLAs with allurements.
In response, Yeddyurappa said, “No one from BJP has indulged in any kind of operation or luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs. We had gathered all our MLAs at one place and were discussing preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for the last two-three days. Today all are coming back.”
He added, “Why do they have to fear if we gather our MLAs, I don’t understand. Internal fight within Congress and JD(S) is going out of control, to cover up their internal squabbles, they should not blame BJP.”
Karnataka is witnessing a political turmoil following charges of horse trading flung at each other by the ruling coalition and the BJP amid speculation that about six MLAs are ready to jump ship to the BJP side. The Congress has, however, dismissed reports, saying they are ‘intact’. Earlier on Tuesday, two MLAs withdrew support to the seven-month-old government led by HD Kumaraswamy.
(With PTI inputs)