Speculation was rife in political circles that BJP leaders in Karnataka were trying to poach Congress MLAs to topple the government. However, Kodagu District in-charge minister Sa Ra Mahesh, on Tuesday said that the BJP was not trying to poach MLAs from the the coalition government.
Speaking to the media in Belagavi's Chikkodi, Minister Sa Ra Mahesh said, "Yes, it is true that Congress MLAs are in touch with us. We have been talking to them. It is also true that six to eight BJP MLAs may resign and side with the coalition but the BJP is not trying to poach Congress MLAs."
Sa Ra Mahesh said that the 104 BJP MLAs from Karnataka were lodged at the ITC Hotel in Gurugram as they were attending the party meeting. He further stated that there were no Congress MLAs who were thinking about quitting the party.
"Yes, we are in touch with BJP MLAs. They have gone to Delhi only to part-take in the BJP's national party meeting. We have been in touch with some BJP MLAs to discuss the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," he added.
Sources in the JD(S) say that Nanjangud MLA Harshavardhan and Turuvekere MLA Jayaram are willing to defect from the BJP. Sources also said that the JD(S) had been trying to convince eight BJP leaders to defect as it would only make it easier for the coalition to ensure an easy win in the Mandya and Mysuru-Kodagu Lok Sabha seats.
Congress insiders say that the dissent in the party arose primarily due to Siddaramaiah's efforts to sabotage the JD(S) in the state. "When the cabinet expansion happened, apart from MB Patil and PT Parameshwar Naik, no other leader chosen by Siddarmaiah was inducted into the cabinet. He was, however, hailed for ensuring that the caste combinations in the cabinet were perfect. But those were the efforts of all other leaders. If Siddaramaiah had not encouraged Ramesh Jarkiholi to rebel, this situation would not have come up in the coalition," a Congress source said.
Sources say that in order to compensate for dropping Ranebbenur MLA R Shankar from the cabinet, several leaders had suggested that B Nagendra be made the minister. "Ideally, when R Shankar was dropped, H Nagesh (Mulbagal MLA) should have been given a ministerial berth but that did not happen. Also, B Nagendra was roped into the party when leaders promised him a ministerial post. but he was not even given a chairmanship of a board. He was also dissenting. This gave rise to three MLAs deciding that they would threaten to quit the party in order to bargain for a portfolio. Siddaramaiah should have taken into consideration the need for the coalition to survive," the source added.