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K’taka crisis: two more BJP MLAs turn rebel

Bangalore: Two more MLAs are said to have left Chief Minister Yedyurappa’s camp, raising serious doubts about stability of the BJP government in Karnataka.

Earlier, 14 BJP legislators along with five Independents had withdrawn support to the government, reducing it to a minority. But three BJP rebels had come back to party fold following which Karnataka Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah had served notices to 11 dissidents on Friday under anti-defection act. They were asked to reply by Sunday evening why they should not be disqualified as MLAs. The Speaker’s action followed a complaint by the chief minister.

“All the BJP MLAs are going to vote for the government, if they don’t they will lose their membership. If the issues are genuine then the party is ready to address the problems,” senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu.

Meanwhile, the JDS has said it’s got nothing to do with two more BJP MLAs turning rebel. The JDS and the BJP have been fighting over the BJP rebels who are believed to be holed up at a five star resort in Goa. Both sides have been claiming the rebels are with them. Hectic efforts were underway at the resort till late Friday night.

As suspense continued over the rebel’s stand especially after one of them signalled last night that the crisis could be over, Goa’s BJP MP Sripad Naik claimed the crisis in the first saffron government in the South is “99 per cent over”. Some remaining hitches will be thrashed out during another round of talks.

Naik said three of the six dissident ministers who were dropped will be taken back. One Independent who is pressing for a Cabinet berth will be given a ministerial position, he said. Naik however did not give out the names. He also said the rebels will come out with a joint statement Saturday.

Senior BJP leader in Goa and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar alleged that the JD-S and the Congress was putting “undue pressure” on the rebels to vote against the Yeddyurappa government. Parrikar and Karnataka Tourism minister and mining magnate G Janardhana Reddy, a former foe of the chief minister, were holding the talks on behalf of him.

Opposition JD(S) was also making efforts to woo the rebels to its camp with former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy camping in the same hotel where they are lodged and reportedly trying to stop their return back to the BJP. Kumarswamy said he was confident of dissident legislators voting against Yeddyurappa during the trust vote.

“Wait for 48 hours, you will come to know their decision. They all are together and will take collective decision,” he told reporters. Kumarswamy, son of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, said he was in Goa to “take rest.”

“It’s a dispute within the party and it will be resolved by tomorrow,” Parrikar told reporters in Panaji. The Speaker’s move to proceed against 11 rebels was considered as a pressure tactic by the BJP to quell dissidence to save its government.

Karnataka Assembly Secretary S B Patil said in Bangalore that the MLAs on whom the notice has been issued have to meet the Speaker before October 10 by five pm and tender their explanation, a day before when Yeddyurappa would seek a confidence vote on the direction of Governor H R Bhardwaj.

Excise Minister M P Renukacharya, the legislator who is spearheading the dissident campaign and who last night signalled that the crisis may be over, was among the MLAs who got the notice. He had said the government is stable and there is no threat to it. Yeddyurappa on his part said he was “100 per cent sure” that he will win the confidence vote in the state Assembly on October 11.

He was confident that the Congress will not support JD-S’s efforts to woo the BJP rebels to its fold in the attempt to form another government.

Kumaraswamy when asked whether Congress and Janata Dal-S is ready to form alternate government, said he would not like to answer hypothetical questions. “All the opposition group will vote for the no confidence motion,” he said. “You will come to know everything on October 11,” he said, adding that he had met all the legislators in the resort.

Kumarswamy rubbished claims that he was involved in horse trading to woo the dissident legislators. “They will take their own decision, they will not concede to anything,” he said.

Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, who has often been at loggerheads with the BJP government, said he was sending reports to President Pratibha Patil every day on the political developments in the state. “Everyday I am sending reports on every minutest detail to the President on the developments in Karnataka,” Bharadwaj said.

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