Four of seven rebel JDS MLAs, who have been linked to the ruling Congress in Karnataka for the last two years, resigned from the state legislature on Saturday, a day after they voted for Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha polls. JDS MLAs B Z Zameer Ahmed from Chamarajpet, N Cheluvarayaswamy from Nagamangala, H Bheema Naik from Haggarabomanahalli and R Akhanda Srinivasamurthy from Bengaluru submitted their resignations to Speaker K B Koliwad. The resignations are seen as the first step to their induction into the Congress in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
Three other JDS MLAs —- Iqbal Ansari from Gangavati, H C Balakrishna from Magadi and Ramesh Bandesiddegowda from Srirangapatna —- who also voted against the JDS in Rajya Sabha polls are expected to resign in the next few days. The rebels are expected to join the Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi, who is at present touring southern districts of the state.
Last August, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had taken the seven rebels to New Delhi to meet Rahul and stated that they would be joining the Congress ahead of state elections. The seven MLAs were suspended from the JDS —- former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s party —- for voting for a Congress candidate in Rajya Sabha polls in June 2016. Four of the MLAs are former ministers once closely associated with former chief minister and JDS state president H D Kumaraswamy. The rebel MLAs blamed their exit from the JDS on Kumaraswamy. MLA Zameer Ahmed, considered a rising Muslim leader in Karnataka, has accused Kumaraswamy of stifling the growth of leaders and working unilaterally.
On Saturday, Kumaraswamy said that the four MLAs who had resigned “had forgotten the contributions made to their growth as leaders by hundreds of JDS party workers and the party over the years. They betrayed the party in two Rajya Sabha elections.”
The JDS has also vowed to ensure their defeat if they contest Assembly polls on Congress tickets. “If the JDS is going to go all out to defeat these candidates, we will be going all out to ensure their win,” Siddaramaiah had stated last year.
The seven JDS rebels helped the Congress elect a third candidate, G C Chandrashekhar, to the Rajya Sabha on Friday, leaving the JDS short of votes for its candidate B M Farook, a businessman.