Four Congress MLAs in touch with the BJP
There has been a lull in politics in the State over the weekend, with all the top political leaders back in their constituencies and set to return on Monday for another round of hectic activity set to commence after the verdict of the Karnataka High Court is pronounced.
Indications are that at least a few more legislators, particularly from the Congress, have been tapped by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and are likely to quit their membership of the Legislative Assembly over the next few days. One among them, Malikaya Guttedar elected from Afzalpur, who is also the district president of the Congress, has already made his intentions clear.
Mr. Guttedar, who is a former Minister and is quite close to the former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa, has said that the situation in the Congress is stifling and he has therefore decided to walk out of the party. Elected five times to the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Guttedar was for sometime in the Janata Dal (Secular) before returning to the Congress.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party told The Hindu that there are at least four other Congress legislators who are in touch with the ruling party — one each from Belgaum, Gulbarga, Bidar and Bangalore Rural districts. Of them, three belong to the dominant Veerashaiva community to which Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa belongs. However, they are expected to shift their loyalties only after the court verdict is pronounced.
In the meanwhile, a section of the 11 BJP legislators who have been disqualified from the membership of the lower House by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah and whose petitions challenging the disqualification is pending before the High Court, are also in touch with some of the BJP leaders. However, their return will be of interest to the BJP only if their disqualification is set aside.
Union Minister for Law M. Veerappa Moily, who was in Bangalore on Sunday, said the Union Government was closely watching the political developments in Karnataka and would act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. “The UPA Government at the Centre has not closed its eyes to the political developments in Karnataka. We cannot take action just like that and have to act according to the Constitution,” he said. The Chief Minister who is away in Shimoga said he would place all details relating to the attempts at destabilising his Government before President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shortly.
Justice V.G. Sabhahit, who is the third judge hearing the disqualification petition of 11 legislators had on Thursday reserved his orders after hearing arguments of both sides for two days . The disqualified BJP legislators have maintained in the court that they are very much with the party and that the Speaker's order disqualifying them was perverse.
The Speaker had disqualified 16 legislators, including five independents, ahead of the first trust vote on October 11. While two legislators, one of the JD (S) and another of the BJP abstained during the trust vote, two other Congress legislators have since resigned from the Assembly aimed at depleting the strength of the Opposition in relation to the ruling party. The strength of the Opposition now stands at 98 compared with 106 of the BJP.