Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy rejected reports that some Congress MLAs have gone incommunicado and are unreachable to the Congress-JD(S) coalition.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the JD(S) leader said that the Congress MLAs believed to be in a Mumbai hotel are not unreachable to him.
“The MLAs are unreachable to the media, not to me,” he said.
Asserting that the MLAs will return to Karnataka, the CM said, “I am in touch with everybody and I am speaking to everybody; they will come back.”
Commenting on the withdrawal of support to the coalition government by two MLAs, Kumaraswamy said that there is nothing to worry.
“Our coalition is going on smoothly. I was relaxed and I am relaxed. Don’t worry, be happy,” said the 59-year-old Kumaraswamy.
Two MLAs – a member of a regional outfit and an Independent – withdrew their support to the seven-month-old government.
In the 225-member Karnataka Assembly, the Congress has 80 MLAs including the Speaker, the JD(S) 37 and the BJP 104.
The MLAs are R Shankar, a legislator from Ranebennur Assembly segment in Haveri district, belonging to the regional Karnataka Pragnavantha Janata Party, and H Nagesh an Independent from Mulbagal constituency in Kolar district.
The two legislators later shared with the media their letter to Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R Vala withdrawing their support to the coalition.
“I had extended support to the JD-S-Congress coalition expecting good governance, but have been disappointed,” Shankar told the media.
Shankar was a former Forest Minister in Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s cabinet but was dropped from the Ministry during a reshuffle and expansion on 22 December last year. His letter of withdrawing support was reportedly sent to the Governor before his sacking.
Brushing aside speculations triggered by the withdrawal, JD(S) chief and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said, “The two MLAs (who withdrew support from Karnataka government) are not affiliated with any party. They are independents. There is no need to hype it up so much. It is all a media hype.”
Both the Congress-JD(S) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been accusing each other of horse trading.
The BJP has kept over 100 of its MLAs in the five star ITC Grand Bharat resort in Haryana to guard against their alleged poaching by the coalition parties.
The Congress claims that the BJP is trying to topple the government.
“BJP is trying to sway the legislators with money power. Their aim is to topple the government, but we are confident of retaining our stability as we have the support of all our legislators,” Congress leader and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara told the media.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Congress leader and the coalition’s trouble-shooter DK Shivakumar said, “BJP is trying to create a hype in the country on Mahagathbandhan. Let them be honest with their hearts first.”
“Our MLAs are with us. We are answerable to the people of the constituency. They are not doing any dirty politics,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
The Karnataka Congress had on Sunday claimed that the BJP was indulging in ‘Operation Lotus’.
Shivakumar had then said that “three of Congress MLAs are in Mumbai in a hotel with some BJP MLAs and leaders”.
“We are aware of what has transpired there and how much has been offered to them,” he said.
BS Yeddyurappa, the 75-year-old former Chief Minister and president of Karnataka BJP, had on Monday rubbished Congress-JD(S) accusations that his party was attempting ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple the coalition government in the state. On the contrary, he said that it is parties in power who are trying to lure BJP MLAs.
‘Operation Lotus’ is a reference to the BJP allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to defect to ensure stability of its then-government headed by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka in 2008.