Karnataka Congress rules out rebellion as ‘missing’ MLA returns

The Karnataka Congress on Wednesday firmly ruled out any possibility of desertion in its ranks, soon after the party’s legislator LBP Bheema Naik — “missing” since the weekend — reached a guest house in Bengaluru. It also claimed to have called a meeting of its legislature party on Friday to show its strength.

Karnataka home minister and senior party leader MB Patil said there was no question of any operation to poach Congress MLAs. “All of our leaders are in touch with us and they will arrive for the legislature party meeting where everybody will see that we are united and that this government is strong,” he said.

Arriving at the Kumar Krupa Guest House in the state capital, Naik said there was no truth to the allegation that he had been approached by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The fact that his mobile had been switched off had led to speculation that he was among the five Congress MLAs who had switched sides, Naik claimed.

“I have two mobile numbers and one of them was switched off. There is no truth to these allegations against me. I have not been approached by the BJP,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance government in Karnataka received a jolt after two Independent MLAs, who had been part of the government, withdrew support.

This led to both the ruling coalition and the opposition BJP accuse each other of trying to poach their MLAs even as the latter continued to keep its legislators in a resort in Gurugram to protect them from being wooed by the Congress-JD(S) leaders.

In Delhi, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters that the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka will remain stable alleging that the BJP was trying to intimidate their MLAs in state.

On the rumour about the remaining four Congress MLAs deserting the party, he said, “The four MLAs had gone to travel to Mumbai for their own personal reasons…They have given their statements also. I also had a word with chief minister Kumaraswamy who assured that there is nothing to worry.”.

“We will be holding Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Friday where everyone will be present,” he added.

He also accused the BJP of trying to destabalise the state government. “In Karnataka, the Modi government is trying to manipulate MLAs to form a government. MLAs are being intimidated through threats by of income tax raids and Enforcement Directorate (ED) and all other agencies under their control whether it is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC),” Kharge said, addressing media in Delhi.

“They (BJP) have held their own MLAs in a seven-star hotel in Gurugram. If BJP is so strong why are they protecting their own MLAs? Amit Shah is trying to do horse-trading, he had tried to do the same thing earlier in Karnataka and Yeddyurappa despite trying his best to form a government failed to do so,” he said. “All 118 Congress- JD(S) MLAs are intact and are not going to go anywhere they remain firm on their principles,” he added.

Union minister and former Karnataka chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda, who earlier said his party would form the government if the current one fell, refused to comment on Friday. “ I’m unaware of the developments as I have come to Delhi to attend Cabinet meetings,” he said.

(With inputs from Anisha Dutta)

First Published: Jan 16, 2019 23:31 IST

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