Cong, JD(S) eye power in BBMP; BJP rattled

Cong, JD(S) eye power in BBMP; BJP rattled

The BJP’s confidence about holding the reins of administration in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council was badly shaken on Friday with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s supporters giving the impression that the Congress was not averse to joining hands with the JD(S) to run the local body.

BJP senior leaders, who were busy attending an RSS meeting near Devanahalli on Thursday, woke up to the overnight bonhomie between the ruling Congress and the JD(S), which have been rejected by voters of Bengaluru.

In the Council of 198 members, the BJP has 100 corporators, the Congress 76, the JD(S) 14 and Independents eight. In electing the mayor and deputy mayor, besides corporators, legislators and MPs of Bengaluru have voting rights. To get a mayor of its choice elected, a party will require a minimum of 126 votes. The BJP has 122 on its side, while the Congress and the JD(S) together have 120.

The JD(S) and the Congress can reach their target provided they get the support of six Independents. To outsmart the rivals, the BJP should be supported by at least four Independents.

An Independent woman corporator-elect on Friday joined the BJP and thus the party has 123 members on its side. An SDPI corporator-elect has extended support to non-BJP parties which may take the Congress-JD(S) strength to 121.

The other six Independents remained elusive throughout the day, and thus it was not known which party they would support if a mayoral election becomes inevitable. Both the BJP and the Congress are doing their best to get the Independents’ support.

Among the people said to be in the thick of the action to scuttle the BJP’s dream of running the Palike are the Congress’ Ramalinga Reddy, a minister, besides C M Ibrahim, Byrathi Suresh and Munirathna, and JD(S) leaders Zameer Ahmed Khan, Akhanda Srinivasmurthy and K Gopalaiah.

It is said the plans to jolt the BJP was on for the last couple of days. Ibrahim spoke to JD(S) MLA Y S V Datta to explore the possibility of a Congress-JD(S) combine.

Zameer Ahmed, Srinivasmurthy and Gopalaiah then met the chief minister. According to Datta, party supremo H D Deve Gowda is not averse to aligning with the Congress. But Gowda said there is no such proposal. His son H D Kumaraswamy said the party has not taken any decision on a deal with the Congress.

However, once Kumaraswamy realised that his party MLAs were in touch with Siddaramaiah, he swiftly convened a meeting of the 14 newly elected JD (S) corporators and asked them to remain united.
A source in the JD (S), however, said that leaders who felt that there was no future for them in the party are trying their best to align with the Congress.

In the Congress, leaders seen as Siddaramaiah’s inner circle are involved in behind the scenes exercises to strengthen the hands of their leader, it is said.

Congress state vice president B L Shankar said the party has nothing to feel embarrassed about the developments. “The vote share difference between the BJP and the Congress is very thin. The JD (S) and the Congress put together have more vote share than the BJP. Nearly 60 per cent have voted against the BJP,” he said.

However, he did not indicate whether the ongoing efforts would reach a logical end. Siddaramaiah did not comment. However, Datta said he has broached the subject with the chief minister.

Startled by the developments, BJP leaders, mainly R Ashoka, confined to headquarters to  reach out to the Independents. The party till late evening did not have a clear idea about the strength of its non-corporators - MPs and legislators - with can vote in the Palike Council.

The BJP has sought the help of legal experts to ascertain who have voting rights under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act. It is also exploring ways to get JD (S) support. D U Mallikarjun, MLC (Ind), has been assigned the task.

BJP MLC Ashwathnarayana said, “We need the support of Independents. But they have remained incommunicado. We did not expect this sort of development.”

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