Bengaluru: The Congress in Karnataka Thursday decided to prepare the party for by-elections to 17 constituencies, necessitated by the disqualification of rebel legislators, by sending in teams headed by party leaders as in-charge for each constituency.
The party at a meeting of its top leaders here also decided to face the legal battle against disqualified MLAs in theSupreme Court, but remained non-committal on the continuity of its alliance with JD(S), putting the onus on the Congress high command.
"There will be by-elections for 17 constituencies, as MLAs from there have been disqualified, so we have discussed our strategy, how to face it- we have gathered opinion of our leaders," Pradesh Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters after the meeting.
Stating that for each constituency, a team headed by a senior leader will be constituted and made in-charge, he said, they will immediately visit their respective constituencies.
The team will hold discussions with party workers there, analyse the strength of the organisation there and will work towards preparing the party for elections.
"We have got a good response from party workers and people from these 17 constituencies.
They have welcomed our decision to disqualify and expel those who have betrayed the party and have urged us to consider those loyal to the party while giving tickets," he said.
The party will announce in-charge teams to each constituency by Friday.
Seventeen rebel MLAs- 14 from Congress and three from the JD(S) were disqualified Sunday by the then assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar under the anti-defection law based on a complaint by their respective parties citing anti-party activities.
They had also abstained from the trust vote on July 23, when the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government collapsed.
The meeting was attended by CLP leader Siddaramaiah, senior leaders Veerappa Moily, KH Muniyappa, D K Shivakumar, H K Patil, among others, during which they discussed the ongoing developments in the state and a way ahead.
Not willing to give any direct response to a question about the continuity of alliance with JD(S) during the bypolls, Rao said, "We have decided to make preparations in all 17 constituencies.
The decision on the alliance has to be decided by the party high-command, we will discuss with them and take a final decision, he said.
"Defeating communal and dictatorial BJP is our goal," he added. However, both parties have unofficially expressed their intention not to face the elections in alliance any more. Noting that there can be only coordination or understanding with JD(S), a top congress functionary has said party workers were "happy that in a way we are out of alliance now." The meeting also discussed the stand on the legal battle ahead with regard to disqualified party MLAs in the Supreme Court, Rao said.
"They (MLAs) have now sought shelter from the Supreme Court. I have complete trust that the court will uphold the anti-defection law, because these defectors, these back-stabbers if they are not punished, democracy will not survive," he said. The Congress and JD(S) have both expelled rebel MLAs who have been disqualified, from the party. The Congress has also dissolved its block units in most constituencies from where they had contested. Referring to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's reported comments on giving minister post to rebel MLAs who have been disqualified, Rao said "This makes it clear, why those MLAs went against us, why did they betray Congress and JD(S)- to become minister byjoining the BJP.
It has come from the horse's mouth. People should see what kind of politics BJP was indulging in," he said.
Alleging that BJP was still trying to lure Congress and JD(S) MLAs with allurements like money and power, Rao alleged that they were doing it even to this day.
"It has become their national-level programme," he said. On the BJP government's decision to scrap Tipu Jayanti celebrations and it reportedly mulling over withdrawing cases against Hindu activists, Rao said it showed their priority and the way they looked at society.