Karnataka’s Congress chief Siddaramaiah has vehemently denied reports today that three Congress MLAs were missing from a morning meeting of newly-elected lawmakers.
The Congress has offered unconditional support to the JD(S) and together they have staked claim to form government in Karnataka, having won more than the required 112 for simple majority.
The BJP too wants to form government as it has emerged as the single largest party, but is eight MLAs short of the magic figure.
In such a scenario, the phrase ‘MLAs missing’ can freeze even the bravest, most seasoned politician.
But Siddaramaiah has rubbished such reports, stating: “All Congress MLAs are here. Nobody is missing. We are confident of forming government.”
Reports on Wednesday morning said three Karnataka lawmakers went “incommunicado” and that an orange alert was sent out across the Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) combine, which has the brightest chance to form the government after Tuesday’s hung verdict.
The meeting of newly-elected Congress legislators was delayed on Wednesday morning as the party couldn’t communicate with the three — Rajshekhar Patil, Narendra and Anand Singh, NDTV reported.
Another Congress lawmaker claimed he had been approached by the BJP.
“I got a call from the BJP leaders. They said come to us and we’ll give a ministry to you. We’ll make you a minister. But I’m going to stay here. H D Kumaraswamy is our chief minister,” Congress’ Amaregouda Linganagouda Patil Bayyapur told news agency ANI.
At 11:05 am, ANI reported JD(S)’ lawmakers Raja Venkatappa Nayaka and Venkata Rao Nadagouda are also missing from the JD(S) legislative party meeting which was on in a Bengaluru hotel.
“They (BJP) are poaching our MLAs… we know that. There is a lot of pressure every day. It is not easy to break us as we have the necessary numbers. People are watching this,” Congress’ D K Shivakumar said.
Unofficially, Congress leaders say there are plans to move their legislators to a resort.
“Yes, there is a plan. We have to safeguard our MLAs. We will let you know about the plan in time,” Shivakumar told the media today.
According to reports, BJP leader K S Eshwarappa admitted his party was in touch with some Congress and JD(S) legislators.
The Karnataka verdict has left room for such negotiation as the BJP is desperate for numbers, alleged Congress and JDS leaders.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party in results announced on Tuesday but fell short of 112. The Congress has won 78 seats and the JD(S) 38.
The fear of “MLA shopping” was raised on Tuesday evening by JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, who is looking to become chief minister with the support of the Congress.