Missing MLAs haunt Karnataka govt as it readies to present budget tomorrow
The mystery of the missing MLAs continues to haunt the ruling Congress in Karnataka with four legislators incommunicado on the eve of the presentation of the state budget.
The four lawmakers giving the party brass sleepless nights are Ramesh Jharkoholi, Mahesh Kumtahalli, B Nagendra and Umesh Jadhav, who have been skipping meetings despite legislative party leader Siddaramaiah’s repeated notices, the last one being on Wednesday. The party also issued a whip to all MLAs to be present in the House on Friday.
The latest notice comes a month after Siddaramaiah served ultimatums to the four legislators who did not turn up at a Congress legislature party meeting in Bengaluru.
The four on January 18 abstained from the CLP meeting, after which remaining 76 legislators were moved to a resort. The meeting had been convened by the party to assess whether its flock was intact amid speculation that some of the party MLAs had switched over to the BJP.
The Congress, which shares power with JD-S, has 80 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly, including the Speaker. Accordingly, 79 MLAs were expected to attend the CLP meeting held under the supervision of central leaders K C Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge.
The absence of MLAs has prompted the Opposition BJP to claim that the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (United) coalition government lacked majority. Siddaramaiah countered the BJP claim and asked why the party was not moving a no-confidence motion.
“Let them move no-confidence motion,what’s preventing them? I have called legislature meeting, they will all (4 dissenting Congress MLAs) return tomorrow, the budget will be presented tomorrow. The government has the majority,” he was quoted by ANI as saying.
The Congress has accused the BJP of attempts to destabilize the government as part of, what they called, ‘Operation Kamal’, a charge repeatedly denied by the saffron party.