More disgruntled MLAs in Karnataka to join BJP?
Less than a month after the Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition government lost the trust vote 99-105 in the State Assembly, speculation is rife that more JD(S) and Congress MLAs could join the saffron ranks in the State. As many as 17 MLAs, including three from the JD(S) and 12 from the Congress, resigned from the Assembly last month, paving the way for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s B.S. Yediyurappa to be sworn in as Chief Minister. According to sources, some more MLAs from the two parties are expected to join the BJP in the coming days. “Some of them [disgruntled legislators] are in contact with the BJP leadership in Delhi,” a disqualified MLA told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.
Contrary to reports that BJP leaders were reluctant to accommodate more migrant MLAs by alienating the loyalists who are nursing hopes of getting Cabinet berths, the party is believed to be wooing them in order to strengthen its position in the Assembly. For, the longevity of the BJP government in the State now depends on the number of seats the party wins in the Assembly byelections from 17 constituencies.
The BJP, which has 105 members in the Assembly at present, will need to have at least 113 members to cross the halfway mark in the 225-member House. “If they don’t win in at least 10 constituencies, the BJP government will be on shaky ground,” a source said. Hence, the BJP does not want to take any chances and is working out a strategy to secure the support of MLAs from other parties as a back up.
However, the modalities for their entry into the BJP are still being worked out as the number of MLAs crossing over should be more than two-thirds the strength of the party in order to avoid provisions of the anti-defection law. Former Minister G.T. Deve Gowda, who has already drawn media attention with his pro-BJP remarks, had revealed that a section of party MLAs had expressed a desire to support the BJP government at a recent JD(S) Legislature Party meeting in Bengaluru. His son Harish Gowda is being touted as a possible BJP candidate to contest from Hunsur Assembly segment, from where former Minister A.H. Vishwanath had won as JD(S) candidate in 2018.