The BJP has 104 MLAs, Congress 80 (including the Speaker), JD(S) 37, the BSP, KPJP and Independent have one each.
Bengaluru: Four dissidents skipped the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Friday that was called as a show of strength to counter the alleged bid by the BJP to topple the coalition government.
The absence of the four lawmakers poses no imminent threat to the seven-month-old Congress-JD(S) government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy, but suggests that all is not well within the Congress. Hit by dissidence, the party shifted its MLAs to a resort fearing “poaching” by the BJP.
Though the absence of four Congress MLAs reduces the ruling coalition’s strength to 114 in the 224-member Assembly, the government continues to be in the safe zone in a House with a halfway mark of 113.
The BJP has 104 MLAs, Congress 80 (including the Speaker), JD(S) 37, the BSP, KPJP and Independent have one each. While the BSP is supporting the government, two Independents withdrew their support to the government earlier this week. Soon after, state BJP chief B.S. Yeddyurappa claimed that the two Independents are backing the BJP. The four Congress MLAs who did not attend the Friday meeting are Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as a minister in the recent Cabinet rejig and is said to be extremely unhappy about it, B. Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli.
After the meeting, CLP leader and former Karnataka CM Siddara-maiah said he will issue notices to the four MLAs seeking an explanation from them for their absence at the crucial party meeting. “I will send notice to absentees and seek an explanation. Then I will speak to the high command,” he said.
Mr Jadhav reportedly wrote to Mr Siddaramaiah that since he is unwell and not able to travel, he would not attend the meet. Mr Nagendra had said on Thursday that he may not be able to attend the CLP meet because of a court case.
In a notice to Congress MLAs ahead of the meeting, Mr Siddaramaiah had warned that absence of MLAs would be viewed “seriously” and action will be taken against them under the anti-defection law.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Mr Siddaramaiah, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal and state leaders were present at the CLP meeting on Friday.
The 76 Congress MLAs who did show up for the legislature party meeting were rewarded with an instant holiday package. They were all bundled into buses and driven to the Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.