Rebel MLAs shy away from deal

Bengaluru, Oct. 8: Karnataka’s dissident BJP MLAs on Friday seemed to have backed out of a reconciliation indicated on Thursday with the state BJP.

The BJP dissidents did not announce whether they would support the confidence motion to be moved by the Karnataka CM, Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa, on Friday. One dissident MLA, Mr Belur Gopalkrishna, said the rebel legislators would take a decision by Sunday evening.

All the MLAs, meanwhile, were served showcause notices by the speaker, Mr K.G. Bopaiah, who asked them to appear before him and give their replies failing which they could be disqualified.

If 11 MLAs are disqualified before the trust vote, the whole arithmetic of the required strength of 113 MLAs would come down to 107. Sources in the BJP said the party may try to fish in the JD-S and Congress camps to sail through the trust vote

Sources close to one of the dissident MLAs said the MLAs changed their tune due to serious differences between two leaders — the excise minister, Mr M.P. Renukacharya, and the head of the other group, Mr Balachandra Jarkiholi. The dissension within the group led to them suspending their return journey.

After Mr Renukacharya, who is part of the rebel group, said the MLAs would return to Bengaluru by Friday evening, others took exception and said they would not follow him. The fight continued when the JD(S) state president, Mr H.D. Kumaraswamy, met these MLAs at the hotel.

Sources said the initial payment made to these MLAs by a mine owner seemed not to have reached the MLAs, which irked them.

One of them, from Bombay-Karnataka region, reportedly collected money on the dissidents’ behalf but it seemed the MLA had not shared the same with the other dissident MLAs. The money was given by the mine owner on behalf of a senior JD(S) leader to launch rebel activity.

When the MLAs realised that the situation was getting out of control, they decided to leave the matter to two warring leaders, Mr Renukacharya and Mr Jarkiholi. Mr Gopalkrishna said these leaders would take a final decision. However, Mr Renukacharya told them he would go by the majority opinion of the dissident MLAs, sources added.

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