At a hurriedly convened press conference at the Golden Palm Resorts on the outskirts of Bangalore, where they are staying with JD(S) MLAs, the rebels asserted that all of them were still with the BJP and were ready for talks with party national president Nitin Gadkari.
The disqualified rebels who appeared before the media were - Balachandra Jarkiholi, Anand Asnotikar, G L Nanjundaswamy, Shivanagouda Naik and Y Sampangi. Disqualified independent MLAs Goolihatti Shekar and P M Narendraswamy were also present.
“We had only questioned the leadership of Yeddyurappa and had at no point of time deserted the BJP. But our stand for a change in leadership is firm,” Jarkiholi said.
Jarkiholi said the rebels had tremendous faith in Gadkari and they were open for talks with him. “We are ready to talk to party State unit president K S Eshwarappa but he did not respond to our request,” he said.
However, he pointed out that as the disqualification issue was now before the court, they were bound by the verdict of the High Court. Jarkiholi evaded a direct reply to a query on why they were staying with JD(S) legislators if they felt that were still associated with the BJP.
A top source in the BJP said all options were open including bringing back the rebels into the party fold in case the court directs the Speaker to reconsider his disqualification order. Speaker K G Bopaiah on October 11 had disqualified 11 rebel BJP and five independents under the anti-defection law.
Anand Asnotikar termed their disqualification illegal as they had not been provided the mandatory seven days notice. The rebels also rubbished Home Minister R Ashoka’s allegation that they had been illegally detained. “We are free to go anywhere. There is no compulsion of any kind on us”, the rebels contended.
The rebels said the M P Renukacharya and Raju Gowda had double-crossed mid-way in Goa and had come back to the party fold. “Renukacharya portrayed himself as our leader. He showed his true colours by double-crossing us,” Narendraswamy added.
Speaking on behalf of the disqualified independents, Narendraswamy said they had never joined the BJP nor had signed any form seeking primary membership to the party. There was no grounds to disqualify independent legislators, he said.
‘Who is high command?’
“Who is high command?...Hope good things happen to them.” This was how Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa reacted on the disqualified BJP rebel legislators’ statement that they are open for negotiations with the BJP party high command on returning back to the party fold, on Wednesday.
The rebels expressed such a desire in a press conference in Bangalore. When asked by the reporters whether there is a way for the rebels to come back to the BJP, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa simply said: “You know better what is possible and what is not, at this juncture.”