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Congress-JDS overtures over Bengaluru council give BJP the jitters

The Congress and the JDS together are now eyeing the support of seven Independents and a member of Socialist Democratic Party of India to wrest control of the council.

Written by Santosh Kumar RB | Bengaluru |
August 28, 2015 8:04:23 pm

The failure of the BJP to obtain a clear majority of 103 seats in the 198 member Bengaluru city council in elections conducted recently is threatening to derail it prospects of controlling the council in the light of the Congress party, which is in power in the state of Karnataka, and the opposition Janata Dal Secular hinting at efforts of forging an alliance to keep the BJP out of power in the city.

The Congress with 76 seats and the JDS with 14 seats are banking on eight independent candidates and an electoral system where local MPs, MLAs and MLCs have voting powers on matters in the BBMP council to clinch control over the city. The Congress and JDS are targetting getting a common candidate elected as the Mayor of Bengaluru by using the extended electoral system for the first time ever in the history of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike.

Under the extended electoral system the total number of votes in the city council stands at 255 members – which includes 52 local MPs, MLAs and MLCs plus MLCs residing in Bengaluru. Under this system a party needs the support of a total of 128 councilors and legislators to take control of the affairs of the city council. The BJP with 100 councilors, 12 MLAs, eight MLCs, five MPs (including Rajya Sabha) now has 125 votes on its side. The Congress and the JDS together have the support of 122 councilors and legislators. Both groups are now eyeing the support of seven Independents and a member of Socialist Democratic Party of India to wrest control of the council.

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The move by the Congress and the JDS has alarmed the BJP which had been sitting pretty after winning the majority of seats in Bengaluru for the second successive time two days ago – despite its failure to reach the magic figure of 103. The BJP has now claimed that it has the support of all seven Independents and a member of the SDPI.

Senior BJP leader R Ashok who led the party’s campaign in the local polls expressed alarm over the move by the Congress and the JDS to wrest control of the city council and called it a blatant violation of the mandate of the people. “The Congress and JDS are trying to control the council through the backdoor. They will have to bear the political price of such maneuvering,” Ashok said. He also indicated that the situation wa s fluid and the exact number of votes available to various parties in the extended electoral system was not clear as yet.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah denied knowledge of any efforts by the Congress to forge an alliance with the JDS to keep the BJP out of power. Congress home minister K J George said the Congress will function within the confines of constitutional provisions. He also denied knowledge of efforts at an alliance with the JDS. “The Chief Minister and KPCC president G Parameshwar are the right persons to clarify these developments. I am sure that our party will not go against the constitution in this matter,” George said.

JDS legislators BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, Akhanda Srinivasmurthy, MLC TA Sharavan met JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda at his residence on Friday and discussed a move to ally with the Congress party. “We have discussed the issue of supporting the Congress in the BBMP with Deve Gowda. He supoorted our decision and suggested discussons with JDS leaders like Kumaraswamy before any final decision. We will discuss with Kumaraswamy take a decision tonight,” Zameer Ahmed Khan said.

JDS state president HD Kumaraswamy claimed that there had only been unofficial communications between the JDS and the Congress on the BBMP council issue. “Some Congress legislators had an unofficial dissussion with JDS legislators about possiblities in the BBMP. The Congress party cannot take a decision here they have to approach the party high command,” Kumaraswamy said.

“The administration of Bengaluru has not been good over the last seven years. We do not want our funds looted again. This is our stand and we will do act with the future of the city in mind,” Kumaraswamy claimed.

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