Karnataka 2018
Senior leaders went into a huddle, looking for ways to contact the MLAs who had gone incommunicado from the morning.

Uncertainty prevailed in the Congress in Karnataka, as whispers of several Lingayat legislators siding with the BJP began spreading.

The Congress on Wednesday held a legislative party meeting at its headquarters in Bengaluru. The meeting witnessed a steady stream of leaders coming in from different districts of the state.

At 11.40 am, 66 MLAs had arrived. Kanakapura MLA DK Shivakumar and several other senior leaders went into a huddle, looking for ways to trace Anand Singh and the other missing MLAs.

“Anand Singh was expected to come to the office at 11.00 am, but no one is able to contact him. His phone is switched off and his PA too is unavailable. There are chances he has already sided with the BJP,” a Congress leader said.

Sources in the BJP and Congress say that Molakalmuru MLA B Sriramulu has been in touch with Congress MLAs Anand Singh and Nagendra from Ballari district.

Both Anand Singh and Nagendra defected from the BJP to join the Congress. Both Nagendra and Anand Singh were arrested for their involvement in the 2009 Ballari mining scam.  

“Anand Singh was expected to come to the office at 11.00 am, but no one is able to contact him. His phone is switched off and his PA too is unavailable. There are chances he has already sided with the BJP,” a Congress leader said.

Sources also say that the minister in charge of Water Resource MB Patil was also approached by the BJP.

Meanwhile, Congress strongmen Satish Jarkiholi, the MLA of Yamkanmardi, and Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi did not arrive for the meeting.

“They are expected to fly in this evening,” Belagavi Rural MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar said.

However, sources in the BJP said that the party had approached Satish Jarkiholi as well.

Sources at that the Congress say that leaders are looking to book resorts in a bid to protect their MLAs from being poached.

Other leaders who were not at the meet include Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, Ganesh Hukkeri and Bheema Naik.

The mood at the Congress office was bleak as a few of the MLAs could not be traced.

There is disagreement brewing within the BJP camp too, as Prakash Javadekar is open to talks with JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy. However, the party’s State President BS Yeddyurappa is against this move.

“Yeddyurappa was angry that the national level leaders were thinking about meeting Kumaraswamy. Muralidhar Rao had to go to his house and convince him to come for the legislative party meeting. We have not yet approached Kumaraswamy,” the source added.