The informal meeting of two ‘rebel’ Karnataka Congress legislators with BJP’s senior leader S.M. Krishna here on Sunday sparked speculation over the continuation of the year-old fledgling JD-S-Congress coalition government in the southern state.
“Yes, the two Congress legislators – Ramesh Jarkiholi and K. Sudhakar met Krishna at his residence in the city for personal reasons as they both knew him well and the latter was a veteran Congressman till he resigned in early 2018 to join our party,” BJP’s state unit spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS here.
Jarkiholi, who was dropped from the coalition government on December 24, by the Congress and replaced by his elder brother Satish Jarkiholi, revolted against the party leadership for being ignored and threatened to resign along with a few other rebel legislators with a view to ousting the government.
Jarkiholi is a three-time lawmaker from Gokak assembly segment in the state’s northwest Belagavi district, about 550 km from here.
Sudhakar, a legislator from Chikkaballapura assembly seat near Bengaluru, has been sulking for being denied a cabinet post in the ministry.
“As our party has been ridiculed for predicting the imminent fall of the government due to various reasons and inherent contradictions, we will let actions speak louder than words hereafter. Just wait and see,” hinted Madhusudhan.
Ignoring the party leadership, Jarkiholi also did not campaign for the party’s candidates in the recent Lok Sabha elections, in which the Congress retained only one parliamentary constituency (Bangalore Rural) and lost 20 of the 21 seats it contested along with its ally Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
Defying the party leadership, Jarkiholi also did not attend the Congress legislature party meetings convened by its leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in January and February ahead of the budget session.
Jarkiholi has also been trying to get two other rebel party legislators Mahesh Kamtahalli and Bheema Naik to join him in quitting the party for joining the BJP, which is reported to have promised plum cabinet post to them.
“As the coalition government is surviving on a slender majority of 116 with 113 as the halfway mark for simple majority, resignation of 5-6 Congress or JD-S legislators will reduce it into a minority and a trial strength in the event of a floor test,” added Madhusudhan.
In the 225-member House, the BJP has 104, Congress 79 excluding the speaker and JD-S 37, with the remaining 2 Independents and 1 BSP and one nominated.