Congress Legislature Party leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Friday said he will issue notices to four MLAs seeking an explanation from them for their absence at the crucial party meeting. “76 MLAs were present physically out of the 79. I will send notice to absentees and seek an explanation. Then I will speak to the high command,” Siddaramaiah was quoted as saying by ANI.
Speaking to reporters post meeting, Siddaramaiah said after receiving the replies from the absentee lawmakers, the issue would be discussed with the party high command and state leaders before deciding on the next step.
The CLP meet was called as a show of strength in a counter to an alleged bid by the BJP to topple the coalition government in Karnataka. The absentee MLAs were: Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as minister in the recent cabinet rejig and is said to be extremely unhappy over it, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli.
Though the absence of the four ministers did not pose as a major threat to the seven-month-old H D Kumaraswamy-led government, it did suggest that not all is well within the party which has apparently been hit by discord.
In a notice issued to Congress MLAs ahead of the meeting, Siddaramaiah had also warned that absence of MLAs would be viewed ‘seriously’ and action would be taken against them under the Anti-Defection Law.
Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for their alleged involvement in the process of destabilising the HD Kumaraswamy led- Karnataka government, Siddaramaiah told ANI, “They approached our MLAs with huge offers of 50-70 crores. I have proof. How come a Chowkidar has so much money?”
Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy, who is going to Eagleton resort along with other lawmakers as part of the party’s efforts to keep its flock together, was quoted as saying by ANI, “We are not going to leave, we are working together well, let us work. We are all going to Eagleton resort, It would be a one day stay probably, a show of strength. We will also have discussion on upcoming parliamentary elections.”
Exhibiting confidence in the coalition, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “Most of them have come, the others will also come. Let whatever happen, there is no threat to this government.”
He said that the government will complete five years and condemned BJP’s efforts to destabilise the government, calling it futile.
Soon after the CLP meet, the Congress MLAs were herded together in two buses from the Vidhana Soudha, the state
secretariat where the CLP was held, and taken to a resort near the city.
In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has 103 members, Congress has 79, JDS 37, BSP and KPJP have one each besides the speaker.