Bengaluru: Even as former Chief Minister Siddharamaiah is scheduled to fly to Europe in the first week of September for holidaying, speculations are rife in political circles that 17 Congress MLAs close to the ex-CM are ready to quit their seats and jump ship to the BJP, thus posing a serious threat to the JD(S)-Congress coalition Government headed by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Siddharamaiah’s gamble of going on an European jaunt even as the results of Urban Local Body (ULB) polls will be out in the first week of September, is said to have rattled Kumaraswamy, who had taken over as CM just three months ago.
With Siddu flying to Europe, it is rumoured that 17 Congress MLAs, most of whom are from North Karnataka, are ready to quit their seats and if this becomes a reality, then there is little doubt that the JD(S)-Congress coalition Government would collapse and it will not be surprising if a new BJP Government will be in place months before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
At present, there are 222 MLAs in a house of 224, with one seat falling vacant following the death of Jamkhandi Congress MLA Siddu Nyamagouda and the other seat falling vacant following Kumaraswamy — after being elected from two adjoining Constituencies Ramanagara and Channapatna — resigning Ramanagara seat while choosing to retain Channapatna seat.
If 17 Congress MLAs quit their seats, then the effective house strength comes down to 205, when the new Government that may take over, requires the support of 103 MLAs to prove its majority. The BJP has 104 members in the house and a new BJP Government, if formed, can prove its majority as it has one member more than the required 103 MLAs.
As far as the Congress is concerned, it has 79 MLAs, with a majority of them said to be still with former CM Siddharamaiah.
Siddharamaiah is said to be upset with Kumaraswamy as the CM has been dropping populist schemes and initiatives announced by him, one by one. Also, the Siddharamaiah camp is fed up with the CM, as after the farm loan waiver announcement, there is little money left for executing development works that are in the pipeline. With the results of the ULB polls scheduled to be announced on Sept. 3, the 17 Congress Legislators are said to be seriously thinking to jump ship, if the results in their respective Constituencies go in BJP’s favour.
The BJP, which is aiming to win at least 20 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the State, is also said to be making moves to thwart possible JD(S)-Congress alliance for the LS polls, in order to make it easier for the party (BJP) to win the LS polls.
The BJP, realising that if it is successful in breaking Congress-JD(S) ties ahead of LS polls, such a break up between the coalition parties will have a bearing in other States as well, at a time when the principal opposition party in the LS, the Congress, is making serious efforts to stitch up alliances with local parties in States in order to keep the BJP at bay.
The BJP is hoping to kill two birds at a time — one, breaking the JD(S)-Congress alliance in Karnataka and also to thwart possible Mahaghatbandhan between regional parties and the Congress, which may prove formidable to the BJP in the LS Polls.
Meanwhile, the 17 Congress MLAs who are likely to quit include Ramesh Jarkiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil, Dr. Sudhakar, Mahantesh Koujalagi, Mahantesh Kumathalli, Anand Singh, B. Nagendra, Bhima Nayak, Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, T.D. Rajegowda, B.K. Sangameshwara, B.C. Patil, D.S. Hoolageri, Basanagouda Daddal, Anil Chikkamadu; H. Nagesh and R. Shankar (both Independents), it is learnt.
With speculations doing the rounds on the likely defection of 17 Congress MLAs to the BJP after quitting their seats, the State Intelligence is said to have kept a close tab on the movements of these MLAs.
Meanwhile, top sources said that the Intelligence has tipped off the CM that a senior Congress leader is in constant touch with a senior BJP leader on the possible defections.