Bengaluru: Rattled by reports that a bloc of Congress MLAs led by the powerful Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi are planning to jump ship and back the opposition BJP, KPCC president Dinesh Gundurao on Wednesday paraded some of the ‘disgruntled’ MLAs before the media.
The MLAs — B. Nagendra, Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil—who were seen with the Jarkiholi brothers on Tuesday, accompanied Mr Gundurao to the KPCC office and asserted that they were still in the Congress and had no intention to quit the party.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Gundurao said, "Contrary to media reports that our MLAs are planning to quit the party, some BJP MLAs are in touch with us. But we have not yet initiated any move to get them to our side yet. If the BJP tries to harm us, we will not keep quiet."
Commenting on the ‘machinations’ of the Jarkiholi brothers, he said, "they enjoy good ties with Mr Singh, Mr Nagendra and Mr Patil and many more in our party. As party colleagues, they keep meeting often. There is nothing much to read into it."
At this juncture, Mr Nagendra, Mr Singh and Mr Patil too made it clear that they had never been in touch with the BJP and they were not aware why their names had kept cropping up in the media.
The Jarkiholi brothers are upset with Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar for trying to challenge their supremacy in Belagavi district through his aide and MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar. The siblings were made to accept candidates of the Hebbalkar camp in the recent Primary Land Development(PLD) Bank elections in Belagavi, which has reportedly infuriated them.
The brothers claim the support of eight MLAs and are in touch with the BJP fuelling speculation about the stability of the Kumaraswamy government. Former minister Satish Jarkiholi justified thn Legislators claim they never contacted BJPeir moves saying, "factionalism is found in all parties. Our faction is of like-minded people."
"We have faith that party seniors will resolve the issues. I met Mr Gundurao to discuss how to stop this because negative reports damage the party. Mr. Gundurao has sought two days' time to discuss the matter," he said. Ruling out the possibility of quitting the Congress, Satish’s brother and Municipal Administration Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi told reporters, "There is no question of me quitting the party. I am very much in the Congress. I met Mr Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a father figure to me and explained the situation to him. I have full faith in our seniors who will set things right." Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Dr G. Parameshwar termed reports about the government collapsing as mere speculation. " Yesterday Ramesh Jarkiholi had contacted me. He gave me some suggestions. There was nothing like a threat to topple the government if their demands were not met," he said but did not elaborate on what the Jarkiholis had demanded. Sources said the Jarkiholi brothers have told the state leadership that they would brook no interference from "outsiders" in their district and had demanded a key post for Satish, who is a ministerial aspirant. Speculation is also rife in political circles that the brothers are making these moves at the behest of former chief minister Siddaramaiah, with whom they are close, to
contain Mr D.K. Shivakumar's rising influence.
…but bjp says wait and watch
Even as the ruling Congress party put up a brave face parading its MLAs on Wednesday to dismiss rumours of some of them crossing over to the BJP, the saffron party claimed several Congress MLAs had approached them and 'dozens were planning to resign soon.' BJP leaders also dismissed Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy's claim that five of their party MLAs were in touch with him and had offered to support the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. They alleged that Mr Kumaraswamy and KPCC president, Dinesh Gundurao were trying to create confusion in BJP ranks by "desperately spreading such rumours."