On 4 ‘missing’ Karnataka Congress MLAs, Siddaramaiah rushes to cut losses
Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said on Friday he will request the Speaker of the Karnataka state assembly to suspend the four dissenting legislators. They skipped the latest legislature party meeting and also failed to turn up during the budget session.
The four rebel MLAs, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumathahalli, and B Nagendra, have not turned up despite the Congress issuing a whip on Tuesday asking them to be present throughout the session.
Hours ahead of the state budget, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday removed dissenting Umesh Jadhav from the post of the chairman of the Warehouse Corporation. Pratap Gowda Patil will be replacing Jadhav.
The four MLAs have already skipped the Congress legislature party meeting last month. While all four responded to CLP chief and former chief minister Siddaramaiah after he issued them a show-cause notice, they have not met him to explain their absence.
BC Patil was also absent during Friday’s meeting but, Siddaramaiah said, he had informed him that he will meet him soon. Patil had also failed to turn up and did not answer phone calls by party leaders.
“All of them have said they can’t come till February 15. Sufficient opportunities have been given to these MLAs. I had issued show cause notices to them after they skipped the meeting on January 18. I had asked them after they replied to the notices to justify their excuses in the replies. I also told them to meet me personally but they have not turned up so far,” Siddaramaiah said during a press conference.
“It is the unanimous opinion of the CLP that I should take legal action under the anti-defection law. Therefore, I have decided to approach the speaker, requesting him to take action under the anti-defection law… I have requested all the MLAs to be present till the finance bill is passed and whip has been issued to that effect,” he said.
Siddaramaiah, however, said the Congress party will not act against absconding MLA JN Ganesh, who allegedly assaulted his colleague Anand Singh at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru last month. Ganesh was among the five MLAs who did not turn up.
“We will not take any action against JN Ganesh yet because he is absconding and natural justice requires sufficient opportunity to be given. The other four were given sufficient opportunities but failed to turn up,” he said.
Legislative party leader Siddaramaiah had sent a notice to the missing MLAs 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 KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge.
The opposition BJP to claim that the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government lacked majority amid the absence of the MLAs.