Tensions appear to have developed in the Congress-JD(S) alliance that is ruling in Karnataka over a number of Congress MLAs allegedly going incommunicado, with at least three of the lawmakers confirmed to be camping out at a hotel in Mumbai's Powai.
Speaking to reporters and offering his first response on the matter, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy said that the MLAs are in constant touch with him and that he had spoken to them at 7am on Monday. Kumaraswamy claimed to know exactly who the BJP is in touch with, over the 'horse-trading' allegations that have been levelled against the latter party. He also questioned the number of MLAs that are said to be rebelling, suggesting that the number isn't as high as 15-18.
Kumaraswamy's reaction came just a short while after senior Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar accused him of being 'lenient towards the BJP'.
"The CM is a little lenient towards BJP. A little lenient in the sense that he hasn't exposed what he is aware of. All the MLAs went to the CM and revealed about the conspiracy that is underway. They even informed Siddaramaiah. The Chief Minister said let's wait and watch. If I were in his position I would expose within 24 hours. They have revealed everything - what they were offered, how Operation Lotus was conducted last time - they revealed everything."
Meanwhile, Karnataka's Deputy CM G. Parameshwara dismissed that the Congress MLAs that are in Mumbai or are said to be incommunicado were rebelling. He said, "Some of our MLAs have gone out. We don't need to be worried. They may have gone out for temples, family outings, or vacations. But they are not going to join the BJP to destabilise the government."
The senior Congress hierarchy held a meeting earlier in the day to discuss what they are referring to as the BJP's 'Operation Kamala' - a nod to a political event from a decade earlier when the BJP had allegedly 'horse-traded' away a significant number of Congress MLAs.
Earlier on Monday, DK Shivakumar had confirmed Republic TV's newsbreak of three Congress MLAs camping out at a hotel in Mumbai's Powai. He had denied that they were rebelling, however. Sources also confirmed to Republic TV that the matter may be more serious for the Congress, seeing as a number of other MLAs are also out of the party's reach, with Ramesh Jarkiholi allegedly claiming the support of two more MLAs. The other MLAs who are suspected of being a part of this are Shivaram Hebbar, Umesh Jaadhav, Anand Singh, Nagendra and Ganesh.
Currently, the BJP has 104 MLAs in the Karnataka assembly with the midway point being 113. The Congress and JD(S) together have 117 MLAs. Around 15 MLAs would be required to leave the Congress fold for the half-way mark to come down to a level where the Kumaraswamy-led government would come under threat.
As per Republic TV inputs, Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa will meet party chief Amit Shah at New Delhi on Monday.