Following the withdrawal of support to the BJP government in Karnataka by 19 MLAs, including 14 from the ruling party, on Wednesday, the BJP claimed to have persuaded seven dissidents to return to the party fold on Thursday.
State Tourism Minister Janardhan Reddy, who had teamed up with his brother Karunakar Reddy last year to oust Yeddyurappa from the chief minister’s post, is negotiating the peace process with the party dissidents.
By late evening, party sources in New Delhi claimed that seven dissidents who have been assured ministerial berths had agreed to vote for the Yeddyurappa government during the confidence motion on Monday.
The BJP’s strength in the assembly was reduced from 123 to 104 MLAs after 19 legislators — 14 party MLAs and five Independents — submitted letters to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj withdrawing support to the Yeddyurappa ministry on Wednesday.
With the BJP claiming it had persuaded seven dissidents to support the government, it is two short of the majority mark of 113 in the 224-member assembly. “We are not concerned about the independent legislators. The BJP is concentrating on its own members (14 MLAs),” said a leader involved in the peace brokering process in Bangalore.
On a day when Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa sacked two dissident ministers, the Opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular accused the BJP of trying to lure their legislators ahead of the vote of confidence in the assembly on Monday.
“BJP leaders have been trying to influence Congress members to support them,” said a senior Congress leader who did not want to be named.
In New Delhi, central leaders of the BJP exuded confidence that the Karnataka government would win the confidence motion. They said seven of the disgruntled party MLAs were on the verge of returning and the rest were likely to follow suit or risk disqualification when voting on the confidence takes place.
Party sources said the CM has agreed to give ministerships to seven of the party rebels.
On the issue of a change of guard in the state, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said there was no question of replacing CM Yeddyurappa.
In frenetic activity aimed at saving its government in Karnataka, the BJP sent its central leader M. Venkaiah Naidu to Karnataka while state Law Minister Sureshkumar S. -- considered close to Yeddyurappa -- held talks with party president Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi.
The party has also issued a veiled threat to the rebels, suggesting that they may be disqualified under the anti-defection law.