The Congress-JDS government in Karnataka is facing one of its biggest challenges to keep its coalition alive as discontent within the alliance seems to be out in the open after senior Congress leader was spotted at a resort in Belagavi district raising suspicion over the stability of the coalition government.
According to the reports, senior Congress leader and Belagavi strongman Satish Jarakiholi on Monday visited a resort in the Kanakumbi area, near Goa and Maharastra border setting of worries within the party. It becomes interesting as an audio-clip has also gone viral containing a conversation between an associate of BJP leader B Sriramulu and a Dubai-based businessman allegedly trying to poach few MLAs from the Congress party triggering speculations about the renewed approach by the BJP to form a government in the state.
Meanwhile, the audio, which has gone viral now, the associate can be heard saying at least 10 to 11 MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) are ready to switch sides to BJP. The associate further says the MLAs will be offered 20-25 crores and also ministerial berths if they leave their current party. He says that those disgruntled MLAs has to resign by the first or second week of December.
Satish Jarkiholi, brother of Ramesh Jarkiholi, the latter being a minister in the current government is considered to be one of the most powerful politicians in the state and had previously had hinted away of breaking away from the party after his name went missing from the first cabinet list.
However, Satish Jarkiholi has rejected the speculations of him being part of the operation to poach MLAs and said that he had visited the resort to book rooms for some legislators who are visiting Belagavi on a tour.
He cryptically said, “I had just gone to look at the resort,” he said. When pressed for a reason for the visit, Jarkiholi said: “In the future, I might take legislators there. Not to make them defect but for a tour.”
He said that there are few disgruntled MLAs in the party, which is common in any political party and added that he is not in touch with any of them. He urged Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to expand the cabinet as soon as possible.
“There are not 25 dissidents. Hardly there are seven to eight people, but I am not among them. From the beginning, I have been saying I will stay in Congress…There is nothing new in it. It’s quite natural that attempts were made to pull down the government but nobody from our side will join them,” said Satish Jarkiholi.
On Wednesday, the Congress has planned a meeting of the coordination committee of the coalition headed by the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to discuss the expansion of cabinet before the winter session scheduled to begin from December 10.