Aided by the affluent mining lobby of Bellary, the BJP government in Karnataka has managed to woo four legislators from the Opposition. The legislators — two each from the Congress and the Janata Dal (S) — have quit their membership of the legislative assembly and will contest the bypolls as candidates of BJP.
The legislators — J Narasimha Swamy (Doddaballapura) and Anand Asnotikar (Karwar) of Congress and Balachandra Laxmanrao Jarkhiholi (Arabhavi) and K Shivana Gouda Naik (Devadurga) of Dal — praised the progressive policies of BJP to buttress their decision to relinquish membership of the Assembly.
With their exit, the strength of 224-member Assembly has been reduced to 220, but has ensured the requisite safety for the continuance of a minority dispensation in the state that has the backing of six independents. The BJP won 110 seats in polls held in May 2008, three short of the figure of 113 required to form the government. The government headed by B S Yeddyurappa took office with the support of six independents, five of whom were rewarded with berths in the cabinet. The Congress, which won 80 seats, now has 78 while the Janata Dal (S) strength has dropped to 26.
BJP sources told this correspondent that the strategy to woo legislators from Opposition was worked out by the Reddy brothers (ministers G Karunakara Reddy and G Janardhan Reddy) of Bellary and their lieutenant B Sriramulu. The deal envisages a reward of position in the ministry on their election to the Assembly from respective constituencies.
The Speaker’s office confirmed that the resignation letters were accepted. By-polls are expected to be held within the next six months.
However, leaders of the Congress and Dal (S) said the BJP’s actions were anti-democratic.