Siddaramaiah with H D Kumaraswamy and other leaders on Tuesday | Photo: PTI
Faced with the challenge of keeping their respective flocks of newly elected legislators together until the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly, top Janata Dal (Secular) leaders, including party chief H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy, met Karnataka Congress leaders at a Bengaluru hotel on Tuesday evening.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed they were in touch with at least seven of the 10 Lingayat legislators of the Congress, and half-a-dozen legislators of the JD(S). Sources said the MLAs could abstain from voting during the floor test. BJP sources said the Lingayat legislators of the Congress were upset with the attempt by the party to divide the Lingayat community, and would also be unwilling to accept Kumaraswamy, a Vokkaliga, as the chief minister.
However, there were counter-claims of a similar nature from the Congress. Sources in the Congress said some BJP legislators had also contacted the Congress leadership, and might abstain from voting against the Congress-JD(S) combine during the floor test.
In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
said: “I want to assure the people of Karnataka that the BJP will not allow the state’s development journey to be trampled upon. It will not lag behind for ensuring the state a bright future.” Addressing party workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, Modi criticised those spreading “lies” that the BJP is a party of north. He said the people of Karnataka had given a befitting reply to those with such a "distorted" mindset. BJP chief Amit Shah said the party would continue to win all elections in the near future, including the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress and JD(S) were mulling whether to take the legislators to a resort in the neighbouring state of Kerala, which is ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The Congress leaders present at the meeting included outgoing chief minister Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and others.
Last year, the Congress had put up its legislators from Gujarat in a resort owned by Shivakumar in Bengaluru, when it feared that the BJP might influence them to abstain from voting in a Rajya Sabha election.
Earlier in the day, the JD(S) and Congress leaders had together gone to Governor Vajubhai Vala to stake claim to form the government. BJP leaders, led by BS Yeddyurappa, had also asked to the Governor to give them time until Thursday to prove majority.
The JD(S) has won 37-seats and its ally the Bahujan Samaj Party has been victorious in one seat.
The Congress has won 78 seats, and an Independent candidate that it had backed has also won. Together, the post-poll alliance is set to have 117-seats to the BJP's 104 in the 224-seat Assembly. Two seats where polls were postponed will vote on May 28.