Some rebels tried to contact me: Siddaramaiah

Some rebels tried to contact me: Siddaramaiah

File photo of Siddaramaiah. Photo credit: PTI

In what could give a new turn to things ahead of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s floor test, two senior Congress leaders Saturday claimed that some MLAs from the rebel camp tried contacting them.

“Two MLAs from the rebel camp called up Siddaramaiah, but he didn’t answer their phone,” former home minister MB Patil told reporters, declining to name the MLAs. 

Siddaramaiah, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, confirmed this. “It’s true, some of them called me. They’re afraid of being disqualified. But I didn’t answer their calls,” he said.  

These claims come even as Yediyurappa, who installed the BJP’s government after the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition, is all set to prove his majority on Monday. 

The Yediyurappa-led BJP currently has a strength of 106 members, including an Independent legislator. During the floor test, the BJP will have to make sure the Congress-JD(S) coalition tally remains restricted to 99 or 100 by ensuring that 16-17 MLAs, including the rebels, abstain. Over a dozen rebels are currently holed up in Maharashtra. 

Earlier this week, Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar ordered disqualification of three rebel MLAs - Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli and R Shankar - under the anti-defection law, barring them for the entire tenure of the incumbent 15th Legislative Assembly till May 2023. They cannot contest the ensuing bye-elections, Kumar said. 

The Congress-JD(S) coalition hopes that their disqualification will unsettle the rebel camp and some of them might want to come back fearing disqualification, which could jeopardize their political future. 

JD(S) rebel legislator H Vishwanath, however, rubbished these claims while speaking to a news channel. “It's false. They’re trying to create confusion that something will happen on Monday. We're intelligent enough. They're trying to mislead us, but we won't go astray. They are the ones who are misled,” Vishwanath said, adding that none of the rebels was afraid of disqualification. 

Asked if the rebels will show up for Yediyurappa’s confidence motion on Monday, Siddaramaiah said: “I don’t know who’ll come or not. But who’s the one keeping them? If they had come and if they hadn’t been kept captive, the Kumaraswamy government wouldn’t have gone. By horse trading, holding them captive and isn’t the victory of people. It’s the victory of horse trading.” 

It may be noted that during Kumaraswamy’s trust vote, Congress’ DK Shivakumar claimed on the floor of the House that JD(S) rebel K Gopalaiah had phoned up HD Kumaraswamy and expressed willingness to return. 

The Congress and the JD(S) have vowed that they will not take the rebels back onboard. “Those who’ve betrayed us...we won’t take them back even if it’s the end of the world,” Siddaramaiah had said in the Assembly. 

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