Ramesh Jarkiholi, the Congress MLA from Karnataka’s Gokak, returned to state capital Bengaluru on Tuesday last night. Jarkiholi has been ‘missing in action’ for a very long time. In fact, Siddaramaiah, the former Karnataka Chief Minister, had said that that he “will petition before the Assembly Speaker to suspend the four dissenting Congress MLAs.” These four MLAs include Jarkiholi also. Earlier, on January 18, the Karnataka Congress had issued notice to the dissenting lawmakers. Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as a minister in the recent Cabinet rejig, didn’t attend the Congress meet. Apart from him, other rebel leaders are B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli.
Another Congress MLA J N Ganesh, who was reportedly on the BJP's radar for desertion, is absconding ever since he allegedly assaulted fellow lawmaker Anand Singh during a brawl at a resort recently.
The former chief minister has alleged that the BJP was offering Rs 50 crore each to Congress MLAs as part of its bid to topple the JDS-Congress government in Karnataka, but asserted none of them would fall for it.
"They (BJP) are under some illusion of power. They are offering Rs 50 crore (to Congress MLAs). They huddled their 104 MLAs in a seven-star hotel in Haryana for a week,” Siddaramaiah had said.
At the height of political turmoil early last month after two MLAs withdrew support to the government and some Congress MLAs went incommunicado, Siddaramaiah had made a similar charge alleging that the BJP was trying to buy Congress MLAs by offering Rs 25-30 crore.
The lawmakers who have withdrawn their support are H Nagesh (Independent) and R Shankar (Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha). The development comes amid reports of some Congress MLAs go missing.
In the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the BJP has 104 members, Congress 80 (including Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar), Kumaraswamy’s JD (S) has 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each. BSP is supporting the coalition government.
A possible disqualification of the four MLAs might deepen the crisis for the ruling coalition as in that event, it would be hanging by the thread with its strength just above the half way mark of 113 by one seat.