Cracking the whip, JD(S) today suspended its eight rebel MLAs who voted against its official candidate and supported Congress in the biennial elections to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka.
Caught off guard by the open defiance of rebels, a red-faced JD(S) leadership also issued a notice asking them why they should not be expelled from the party for defying the party whip in the elections held on Saturday, which saw the party candidate, businessman B M Farooq, secure 33 votes against the party strength of 40.
Addressing a meeting of party MLAs, Panchayat Members and office-bearers, JD(S) National President and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda said, “all the eight members have been suspended and notice have been issued to them.”
He said, according to the party constitution, a three- member enquiry committee would be set up, which after going through their (suspended MLAs) replies to the notice, would decide on the expulsion.
Also accusing the MLAs of indulging in cross-voting during biennial elections to fill in seven seats of Karnataka Legislative Council from Legislative Assembly held on Friday, the party has said that if there is no response they would be expelled in accordance with the party constitution.
The rebel MLAs who faced action are Zameer Ahmed Khan, Chaluvaraya Swamy, Iqbal Ansari, Balakrishna, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda, Gopalaiah, Bheema Nayak and Akhanda Srinivas Murthy who had voted for Congress party’s third candidate for Rajya Sabha K C Ramamurthy, paving the way for his resounding victory securing 52 votes aided by them and Independents.
The party earlier on Sunday adopted a resolution asking its president to suspend eight MLAs and to expel them for their indiscipline.
The motion was moved by MLA Y S V Datta and seconded by another MLA Ningaiah and MLC T A Saravana.
Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman and Congress’ Jairam Ramesh, Oscar Fernandes and K C Ramamurthy had won Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka.
It was a harder and more humiliating blow for JD(S) as eight MLAs indulged in cross-voting as against the expected five.
Gowda during the meeting vowed to build and strengthen the party by travelling across the state.
Accusing chief minister Siddaramaiah, energy minister D K Shivakumar and BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa of conspiring against JD(S), he said “the agenda of this trio is to finish JD(S), but they will not succeed in it.”
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president Amit Shah, Gowda alleged that the BJP had “joined hands” with Congress to win the second seat in the council election.
“Modi and Shah speak across the country about Congress-free India, what are they doing here in Karnataka? They have joined hands with Congress to win the second seat in the council elections,” he said.
Congress had won all four seats it contested in council elections from the Assembly, while the BJP managed to win both the seats for which it had fielded candidates and the JD(S) could win only one seat.
JD(S) state president and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy was absent in the meeting but his message to party workers was read out, in which he called rebels as ‘Mir Sadiq’ (a minister who betrayed Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan paving the way for a British victory in Anglo-Mysore war).
Party sources said Kumaraswamy was travelling abroad for production related work of the movie ‘Jaguar’ starring his son Nikhil.
JD(S) has been rocked by “dissidence” in recent months with several of its MLAs unhappy with the leadership over its style of functioning and “unilateral” decisions by the Gowda family which maintains a stranglehold over the party.
Congress with 122 members was assured of two seats for Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes, but with a surplus of 33 votes, the party fielded Ramamurthy, banking on JD(S) rebels and Independents. The required strength for victory was 45 votes.
Even hours before the Rajya Sabha polls ended, the party had admitted that there was cross-voting by its eight rebels, who also publicly said they voted for Congress.