As five Karnataka lawmakers went “missing” on Wednesday, the Congress-JD(S) combine, which staked claim to form a government, and the BJP traded charges over alleged poaching attempts.
JD(S) MLAs Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and Venkata Rao Nadagouda did not attend the legislative party meeting held at a hotel in Bengaluru, reports ANI.
News channel NDTV reported Congress MLAs Rajshekhar Patil, Nagendra and Anand Singh were untraceable. The Congress, however denied these reports. “We are all together. All this is false news. In fact, there are six BJP people who are in touch with us,” says MB Patil.
BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai, a former minister and the son of ex-chief minister SR Bommai, said his party was not “approaching any individual” but stressed that “politics is an art of possibility”, according to news agency ANI.
In a fractured mandate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP made inroads into Karnataka by winning 104 seats but fell short of majority. The Congress (78 seats) and former prime minister Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), which won 37 seats, said they had the numbers to run the 224-member House. The bloc also claimed the support of two independents and an MLA belonging to JD(S) ally BSP.
Also read: Interactive map of the Karnataka election results
In its legislative party meeting on Wednesday, the BJP elected its chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa, as its party leader. Yeddyurappa later met the governor and requested him to allow the BJP to form a government.
After results were declared on Tuesday for 222 constituencies — voting in two constituencies was countermanded, both teams rushed to the governor’s house and appeared confident about their bids.
With stakeholders waiting for the governor to make his next move, murmurs of poaching gained ground.
Early on Wednesday, Congress leaders went into a huddle at their Karnataka headquarters in Bengaluru, where senior leaders are camping to oversee the political overtures in the state that is crucial to the party in national politics.
Following a string of election losses, the Congress now holds power in Punjab, Mizoram and the Union Territory of Puducherry. It has ruled Karnataka for the past five years.
“They (BJP) are poaching or MLAs. We know that,” ANI quoted Congress leader DK Shivakumar as saying. “Yes, definitely there is a plan. We have to safeguard our MLAs, We will let you know what is the plan”.
Outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah reiterated that the Congress-JD(S) bloc was confident about forming a government, according to the news agency.
The JD(S) too held a crucial meeting of party legislators in Bengaluru.
“I don’t know what they (BJP) are offering but they are trying to call our people, but they are not responding. We are all together, no one can touch our party. Our party MLAs are loyal to the party,” JD(S) leader Sarvana said.
HD Kumaraswamy, a former CM and the son of Deve Gowda, said: “We have already decided to go with the Congress. That’s the reason we called Janta Dal (Secular) Legislature Party meeting. There is no question of taking any other decision.”
(With agency inputs)