Two more MLAs break away from dissident camp

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka is still in a crisis, although the leadership is confident that it will win the trust vote on October 11. Two more of the 14 rebel party legislators have returned to the fold and expressed faith in the leadership of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and more are likely to follow suit, according to the BJP.

While Dodde Gowda Patil walked out of the rebel camp on Wednesday, the former Minister, S.K. Bellubi, and Raju Gowda pledged their loyalty to the Chief Minister on Thursday.

Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that four more of the rebel legislators were expected to return here soon and that the party leadership was in touch with them.

The BJP's strength, which was reduced to 103 in the 225-member Assembly has now effectively increased to 106, and is likely to touch 113 by the weekend. This number will give the party government a simple majority.

The Chief Minister, who left for Kerala on a pilgrimage, returned here later in the day and stayed put with loyal party legislators, who are camping in a resort on the outskirts of the city.

The Congress too shifted all its legislators to a resort on the northern outskirts.

All the three main parties — the Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the BJP — have expressed fears of their legislators being “bought over” by rivals ahead of the floor test scheduled for October 11.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Yeddyurappa indicated that he would get tough with the rebels by forwarding the resignations of two of the three Ministers, Anand Vasant Asnotikar and Balachandra Jarakiholi, to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj. The Governor accepted the resignations and this was notified soon thereafter. The other Minister is M.P. Renukacharya, who is expected to come back to the Chief Minister's camp.

The BJP has refrained from expelling Mr. Asnotikar and Mr. Jarakiholi, despite their utterances against the Chief Minister. But it is expected to do so should they vote against the party whip during the trust vote.

There are now six vacancies in the Council of Ministers (the optimum strength in the State being 34).

We are going back, says Renukacharya

PTI reports:

Meanwhile, Mr. Renukacharya told Kannada TV channels from Goa: “Yeddyurappa is our leader. The government is stable. There is no threat to it. We are going back to Bangalore tomorrow [Friday].”

Shortly after Mr. Renukacharya's comments, Mr. Yeddyurappa said: “I hope by Friday evening all the MLAs who are outside will return to the fold. I am very confident of winning the vote of confidence. I am 100 per cent sure that my MLAs will support me.”

In New Delhi, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain warned the rebels that they could lose their membership of the Assembly [under the anti-defection law].”