Four disgruntled Congress MLAs surface after several weeks
Four disgruntled Congress MLAs, who had gone missing for several weeks amid political turmoil in Karnataka, surfaced here Wednesday two days after the party recommended their disqualification to the assembly Speaker. The lawmakers had kept the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings on January 18 and February 8 and had been skipping the ongoing assembly Budget Session since February 6.
Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathali, who were reported to be in touch with BJP, which has been accused of trying to poach the MLAs to bring down the JDS-Congress government, also attended the assembly session Wednesday, giving some relief to the ruling coalition. The MLAs were upset ever since the cabinet reshuffle and expansion on December 22 that saw removal of Jarkiholi.
Also,two MLAs H Nagesh (Independent)and R Shankar(KPJP), who withdrew their support for the Congress-JDS coalition government in January and were camped in Mumbai,allegedly with BJP MLAs, attended the proceedings of the House Wednesday. Meanwhile, Nagesh Wednesday met CLP leader Siddaramaiah and submitted a letter to become an associate member of the Congress, Siddaramaiah's office said in a statement along with a photograph.
Nagesh, a former Congressman, had contested and won as an Independent from Mulbagal after not gettingthe party ticket. After both MLAs withdrew their support to the coalition government, the BJP, claiming their support, had said their strength in the 224 member assembly had gone up from 104 to 106.
Speaking to reporters, Jarkiholi denied that he had indulged in anti-party activities or even challenged the partyhigh command. "There is no denying the fact that I was upset, but I neither indulged in anti-party activities nor challenged our party high command.
I was in Mumbai for my daughter's marriagethat is to take place on February 24. I was meeting my relatives and in the evening I will be going to Mumbai again," Jarkiholi said. Asked for his response to CLP leader Siddaramaiah's petition to the Speaker to disqualify him, he said they were free to do so.
"Let's see. I had told you before too that I am always ready to resign. If they want to disqualify me, let them do it. I am all alone," Jarkiholi said. To a question whether he had been in touch with BJP leaders when he went incommunicado for one-and-half months, he said the BJP leaders were not his enemies, but friends and his differences were restricted only to their ideology.
"I have many friends in the BJP. We politicians are not enemies, but friends. Our differences are limited to party ideologies. On other issues, we are all friends. Me and Umesh Katti (BJP MLA) will go together (to Mumbai) in the evening," Jarkiholi said. The disgruntled Congress MLA said he has come to attend the assembly session and discuss the problems facing them.
He added that he would speak to the party high command and take further steps. Nagendra too agreed with Jarkiholi that they were upset.
"All the four of us are together. It is quite natural that we were upset," Nagendra told reporters. Jadhav said he did not come here "out of fear", but to ensure that the finance bill was passed.
"It is my duty to get the budget passed. Hence I came here," Jadhav said. The Congress had petitioned Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Monday, seeking action against the four MLAs after warning them to mend their ways and fall in line.
The four lawmakers skipped the January 18 CLP meeting, which was meant to be a show of strength in the backdrop of BJP's alleged bid to topple the coalition government, and another CLP meet Friday last, despite a whip. The MLAs were earlier given notices, seeking an explanation for their conduct.
Another Congress MLA J N Ganesh, who was reportedly on the BJP's radar for desertion, is absconding ever since he allegedly assaulted fellow lawmaker Anand Singh during a brawl at a resort recently. Meanwhile, JDS Wednesday released the full audio recording of the purported conversation related to BJP's alleged attempt to lure party MLA Naganagouda to resign and join the BJP.
The 80 minute audio recording contains the purported conversation between BJP state chief B S Yeddyurappa and Naganagouda son Sharanagouda. In the audio, Yeddyurappa is allegedly heard asking Sharanagouda to ask his father to seek police protection and tender his resignation to the speaker during the ongoing assembly session.
"Mostly, all the known Lingayats (Lingayat MLAs) will come and there is no problem, obstacle or fear for you to come. Why we would have called you if that (toppling the government) was not possible? Why we would have troubled you?", Yeddyurappa allegedly says.
"You convince him and you go to Mumbai. When 15 people (defector MLAs from Congress and JD-S) come together, your father will have to just come and submit his resignation. There is no need for your father to come to Mumbai," Yeddyurappa purportedly said.
During the discussion, Sharanagouda pointed out that Kumaraswamy had helped him financially during the election. Yeddyurappa purportedly told Sharanagouda, "It is my responsibility that tomorrow before resigning (by your father) from Mumbai Rs 10 crore will be provided to you through whoever you want." PTI GMS KSU RA APR APR APR.
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