On the heels of the Supreme Court order, which upheld the disqualification of the Karnataka MLAs but allowed them to contest elections, Ramesh Jarkiholi, the former legislator from Gokak, told the media that all 17 rebels would join the BJP on Thursday.
â€śAll 17 disgruntled leaders have just had a meeting with the BJP leaders. We have all unanimously decided to join the BJP tomorrow (Thursday) at 10.30 am,â€ť Ramesh Jarkiholi said, while adding, â€śDacoits have gone on to become MLAs, canâ€™t disgruntled leaders get re-elected? We will contest the elections and are confident of winning.â€ť
The political upheaval began in Karnataka in October 2018 when Ramesh Jarkiholi convinced two other leaders from Belagavi to rebel against the Congress. Ramesh Jarkiholi was unhappy about being dropped from the cabinet as the Municipalities Minister. In addition, Jarkiholi was bitter about DK Shivakumarâ€™s extending his reach into the politics of Belagavi and ensuring that his rival, Belagavi rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar was elected as the President of the PLD Bank.
Jarkiholi openly rebelled and had said on multiple occasions that he would join the BJP. In January this year, Jarkiholi began reaching out to disgruntled MLAs in the Congress and whipped up support for his cause. By the end of June, he had ensured that 14 leaders from the Congress were ready to defect and bring down the coalition government.
However, several of the other rebel leaders had insisted that their dissent had nothing to do with the BJP and that the party had not approached them with an offer to defect. BJP leaders too, had maintained this stance. However, soon after the verdict, the BJP began talking about inducting the rebels into the party.
In addition, three leaders from the JD(S) were also poached. By July 6, Ramesh Jarkiholiâ€™s eight-month-long campaign to bring down the coalition government, was finally coming true. In July this year, 17 MLAs from the coalition had resigned en masse. These included ST Somashekhar (Yeshwanthpura), BC Patil (Hirekerur), Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), Prathapgouda Patil (Maski), Munirathna Naidu (RR Nagar), Roshan Baig (Shivajinagar), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Puram), MTB Nagaraj (Hoskote), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapura), Shrimant Patil (Kagwad), Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumathall (Athani) and R Shankar (Ranebennur) from the Congress, and K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), AH Vishwanath (Hunasuru) and Narayana Gowda (Krishanarajapete) from the JD(S).
The rebels were cooped up at a hotel in Mumbai for over a fortnight until former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy failed the confidence motion, that brought down the coalition. By joining the BJP, the rebels now hope to become politically powerful. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappaâ€™s cabinet has several vacant spots, which the rebels are hoping to occupy if they contest and win the bye-elections on December 5.