The party is pulling out all stops to save the government

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj’s indication that Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar may have to seek trust vote if the resignation episode of MLAs reduced the government into a minority has put the Bharatiya Janata Party government on a razor edge.

The trouble starts for the ruling BJP if more than 15 of its MLAs quit. As of now 14 MLAs, including the former Minister Sunil Valyapure, are ready to quit their Assembly seats as per the game plan of the former Chief Minister and Karnataka Janata Paksha leader B.S. Yeddyurappa to put the Shettar government in a tight spot ahead of the budget presentation.

The BJP, which has 120 members (including the Speaker, a nominated member and an Independent who is part of the ministry) in the 223-member Assembly will be reduced to a minority if more than 15 members quit. To build the pressure, Mr. Yeddyurappa is learnt to have been making efforts to convince 20 MLAs to quit in a bid to topple the government.

According to sources in the BJP, it may be difficult for the Shettar government to survive if nearly 20 MLAs quit. The BJP strategists are said to be now realising that the Opposition Congress has taken extra precautions to keep its flock in a bid to prevent any possibility of poaching. Similarly, the Janata Dal (Secular) has ruled out the possibility of helping the BJP by abstaining from voting in case of a trust vote. In such a scenario, the focus is on six independents. But not all independents may support the BJP as some of them are learnt to be having a tie-up with the Congress.

However, the BJP is trying to pull-out all stops to save its government at least till the presentation of the State Budget scheduled for February 8 as the budget is expected to be an informal poll-manifesto for the ruling party.

The BJP, whose core committee of top leaders met in Bangalore on Friday, considered various options of saving the government.

This included avoiding the possibility of facing the trust vote by preventing Mr. Yeddyurappa from mustering the support of more than 15 MLAs. The second option is to ensure that the gap from the majority mark is not too much even if Mr. Yeddyurappa forces the need for a trust vote so that the party could make up for the required numbers without much difficulty.

Apart from trying to sound some of the Independents and Opposition members, the party’s think-tank is also thinking of strategically using the occasion as a political forum to commence a campaign against Mr. Yeddyurappa and the Congress if it loses the trust vote. “In such a scenario, our main aim will be to reduce Mr. Yeddyurappa’s potential to cut into our vote base in some of the constituencies where he has got influence through such a campaign against him,” sources said.

However, as of now, the BJP is confident of somehow managing the show till the State Budget, as it has been able to establish contacts with some of the rebel MLAs who are in the resignation brigade.

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