A tightrope walk for govt
BJP goes all out to keep its flock together; KJP wooing fence-sitters
With the Jagadish Shettar government being reduced to a razor-thin majority after the resignation of 12 MLAs loyal to KJP leader B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP has been keeping its fingers crossed on the survival of its government.
However, no BJP MLA resigned on Wednesday.
Faced with the situation wherein resignation of just three more MLAs is enough to bring down the government, the BJP, on Wednesday, began working overdrive to retain its present stock ahead of the crucial budget session of the Legislature which is commencing on February 4. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and his deputy K S Eshwarappa are learnt to have been personally calling up each party MLA as part of their strategy to boost confidence among the legislators to remain in the party.
A senior leader is said to be in contact with the five independents, who were once ministers in the government, seeking their support in case the government has to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly.
The BJP top brass including Shettar, Eshwarappa, Ananth Kumar, D V Sadananda Gowda, ministers V Somanna and Govinda Karjol held a meeting Wednesday morning and took stock of the political situation.
The KJP, on its part, has maintained a queer silence, without creating any fresh noise about MLAs’ resignations.
However, party sources said, the KJP is preparing to give a shock to the ruling party by making more MLAs resign in the coming days. The KJP has resumed talks with seven to eight MLAs and ministers, including C C Patil, Chandrakanth Bellad, Srishailappa Bidarur, Kadur Vishwanath, Murugesh Nirani and Revu Naik Belamagi.
A previous attempt by Yeddyurappa to make these legislators resign had failed.† Sources in the KJP said Yeddyurappa had asked his party leaders not to disclose information on the resignation of any more MLAs. It is said that his loyalists may fling a surprise and may even make the MLAs resign by going to Madikeri, the home town of Speaker K G Bopaiah. The party, therefore, did not press the Speaker to accept the resignation of Nagathana MLA Vittal Katakadonda on Wednesday. Tarikere MLA D S Suresh, another Yeddyurappa loyalist, who was to return to Bangalore on Wednesday from Shirdi to submit his resignation letter, has continued his pilgrimage.
Bopaiah, who is in Madikeri, is expected to return on Sunday. The BJP is also worried about the opposition Congress’ moves. Many of its MLAs, including minister Anand Asnotikar, are planning to join the Congress and contest the next Assembly polls as Congress candidates. If the Congress is willing, it can make these MLAs resign, creating more problems for the Shettar government.
Speaking to reporters, Shettar said he would present the State budget as scheduled on February 8. “I do not
expect any more resignations. If the Governor wants, I am ready to prove the majority,” he added.
On the delayed acceptance of resignation letters of 12 MLAs by the Speaker, he said the Speaker was not under any pressure from the government.
* Total number of seats in the Assembly: 225
* Present strength of the Assembly: 211
* Number required for majority: 106
* Govt strength: 108 (BJP: 105+1 ind+1 nominated+1 Speaker*)
* Independents: 6 (including Sriramulu of BSR congress)
* Congress: 71
* JD(S): 26
(*Speaker can vote only in case of a tie)
Cong strategy mysterious: KSE
K S Eshwarappa, State BJP president and deputy chief minister said none could hazard a guess as to who and how many would quit the BJP because ‘no one knows what is the strategy of the Congress’. The Congress, through Yeddyurappa, has already made 12 BJP MLAs quit.
“We are of the view that no one else will quit. We are also confident that the budget will be presented as
scheduled on February 8. Our party MLAs who are politically ambitious will not go to the KJP. But we can’t be sure who will be lured by the KJP to quit,” he said, while interacting with reporters.
Asked whether the chief minister would move a confidence motion, Eshwarappa said, “Why should he? If the
Opposition parties want to move a no confidence motion, then it is a different thing.”