Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is the head of the Congress-JD(S) coalition coordination committee, has convened a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Karnataka on September 25. The meeting comes amid reports that the opposition BJP is trying to sway leaders of the Congress party, in a bid to upstage the coalition government. The committee is also concerned about possible cross voting ahead of the Legislative Council bye-elections.
The bye-poll to fill three vacant seats in the Legislative Council is set for October 4 and the Congress party has called a meeting in the state a full week ahead of the polls over fears that their MLAs are considering offers from the BJP to switch loyalties.
A week ago, Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi was in the news over threats of quitting the party. Siddaramaiah believes that the BJP's efforts to gain power in the state have not yet blown over. He held a meeting with MLA Anand Singh from Ballari who has reportedly received offers to join the BJP.
The Congress party is planning to dissuade its MLAs from leaving the party at the CLP meeting. "There is a conspiracy by the BJP to overthrow our government and few people are trying to affect the functioning of the government. The media has fallen prey to this and the BJP is misusing them," said Dinesh Gundu Rao, President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
Another agenda for the Congress is to decide the names for two candidates for the Legislative Council elections. Currently, four names are being considered for the two spots - MC Venugopal, UB Venkatesh, Nivedith Alva and Naseer Ahmed.
Nivedith Alva in particular is close to Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and senior Congress leaders including RV Deshpande. He has been an MLC in the past and was reportedly dissuaded from contesting the Assembly elections in the state earlier this year.
The discussion of the candidates for the Legislative Elections however is set to take the back seat on Tuesday when the CLP meeting gets underway. Sources in the party confirmed that Siddaramaiah and other senior Congress leaders are prepared with evidence to prove to their party leaders of the threat from the BJP and plan to issue strict rules to party members.