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Congress, JD(S) may shift MLAs to Kerala to thwart any attempt of poaching

The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are likely to shift their newly elected Karnataka legislators to Kerala to pre-empt any attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to poach the MLAs

india Updated: May 18, 2018 00:00 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Newly elected members of Legislative Assembly of Congress return back to the Eagleton Golf Resort after a joint protest of Congress and Janta Dal (secular) at Gandhi statue inside Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru, India.(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are likely to shift their newly elected Karnataka legislators to Kerala to pre-empt any attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to poach the MLAs, senior Congress leader Satish Jarkiholi said on Thursday.

While the BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as Karnataka chief minister earlier in the day, the BJP does not command a simple majority in the state assembly, with the May 12 elections throwing up a hung house. The BJP, the single largest party, has 104 out of 222 seats (elections to two seats were deferred) — eight short of the majority mark of 112. The chief minister has been given 15 days to prove on the floor of the House that he has the adequate numbers to run a government.

The Congress, which has 78 MLAs, and the JD(S), which has 38, and who have joined hands in a post-poll alliance, together have a majority in the assembly with 116 legislators between them.

Jarkiholi said all options to challenge governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision of inviting the BJP to form the government despite not having the requisite numbers were being looked at. “We will move to Kerala because the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is governing there and is unlikely to be swayed by the BJP,” he told HT. Whom to invite to form a government is left to the discretion of the Governor, and there is precedent for both — first inviting the single-largest party and the post-poll alliance that appears to command a majority. Controversy often brews in a hung assembly no matter whom the Governor chooses.

In what is the latest example of “resort politics” that often follows hung assemblies in India, the Congress-JD(S) faction had an invitation from Andhra Pradesh, where the Telugu Desam Party recently broke away from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Jarkiholi said the alliance’s leaders also ruled out Tamil Nadu because the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) that rules the state was seen as close to the BJP’s central leadership.

The Congress MLAs are currently staying at the Eagleton Golf Resort, which is owned by Congress leader and former state minister DK Shivakumar. JD(S) MLAs are staying at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bengaluru city.

On Thursday, the state Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao described the Governor’s decision as “condemnable”. “At present, we have the support of 77 of our MLAs and two independent candidates, apart from the 38 MLAs in JD(S). Anand Singh, the MLA from Vijayanagara, said he was unwell and couldn’t turn up, but we believe he will join us shortly,” he added.

People familiar with the developments, however, said Singh, a former BJP man known to be close to the Reddy mining barons of Ballari, had likely switched to his old party. Singh could not be reached for comment.

CS Puttaraju, the JD(S) MLA from Melukote in Mandya, said the final call on moving to Kerala was yet to be taken because of a Supreme Court hearing on Friday. “As of now, there is another line of thinking that we should wait for the SC hearing before deciding our future course of action,” he said.

First Published: May 17, 2018 23:22 IST