MLAs put Cong on edge ahead of Budget session

Ramesh Jarkiholi cutout

Amid the looming threat of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy facing a no-confidence motion during the upcoming Budget session of the legislature, four disgruntled legislators have kept the Congress on edge as they remain incommunicado.

Gokak MLA and former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, Athani MLA Mahesh Kumthalli, Chincholi MLA Umesh Jadhav and Bellary MLA B Nagendra have been under the party’s scanner ever since they skipped a crucial Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on January 18, for which they were slapped with show-cause notices.

Another notice has been served asking them to physically appear before the party’s leadership. “We haven’t heard from them. It looks like they are stuck,” a senior Congress leader said. It is widely believed in Congress circles that Jarkiholi, Kumthalli, Jadhav and Nagendra may have swayed towards the BJP.

The state Congress has convened an all-members’ meet on February 6, where nearly 1,200 of the party’s rank and file are expected to attend. The party wants to establish contact with the four MLAs before the meet and make sure they attend it, sources said.

The legislature session starts on February 6 and Kumaraswamy is slated to present the 2019-20 Budget on February 8. “I doubt if Kumaraswamy will present the Budget,” BJP leader R Ashoka, who was formerly deputy chief minister, told reporters. “We won’t try to topple the government. Congress and JD(S) legislators themselves will...there are 20-25 MLAs who are not in touch with anybody because they are angry,” Ashoka claimed, and said the BJP cannot be blamed for the actions of Congress or JD(S) MLAs.

“We are not hermits. If there is a chance (to form the government), we will make use of it,” Ashoka said.

There is a possibility that over half-a-dozen MLAs may skip the session, after having taken prior permission of the Speaker, so that they abstain during a no-confidence motion. This could pose a threat to the stability of the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar of the Congress, however, said everything will be alright. “There is no confusion. We have to follow the party’s decision and our president Rahul Gandhi’s words. Everybody will fall in line.”

Also, former BJP minister M P Renukacharya’s meeting with Minor Irrigation Minister C S Puttaraju of the JD(S) set tongues wagging in political circles. Earlier this week, Puttaraju had said the regional party’s coalition with the BJP was “smoother” than the one now with the Congress.

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MLAs put Cong on edge ahead of Budget session

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