BENGALURU: Even as the political slugfest between Congress and the BJP continues in Karnataka after the voters gave a fractured mandate in assembly polls, two MLAs - R Shankar and H Nagesh – have grabbed eyeballs over their support to the parties in the crucial number game in this southern state.
According to media reports, R Shankar, the only MLA from Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) who won in Ranebennur, had earlier pledged support to the BJP, which is 8 short of the simple majority with 104 MLAs, but later switched side in favour of Congress.
R Shankar had visited BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa’s residence in Dollars Colony, along with another prominent party leader KS Eshwarappa. He even announced support to the BJP. But later in the evening. Shankar showed up at the KPCC office and announced his support to Congress-JD(S) combine.
Shankar's alleged flip-flop led to a barrage of attack on Eshwarappa for not being able to retain the MLA.
Shankar had won from Ranebennur as a candidate of the Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha. In 2013, he had contested as an independent and lost to KB Koliwad by a margin of 6788 votes.
The party’s target is those who recently crossed over from BJP to Congress and won the elections and Lingayat MLAs from North Karnataka from both Congress and JD(S). Sources said that several Lingayat MLAs were contacted by BJP leaders close to Yeddyurappa, with an appeal “to not take part in a subversion of the mandate by Congress and JD(S) to prevent a Lingayat from becoming the Chief Minister” and allegedly offered inducements to switch sides.
Amaregouda L Bayyapur, a Lingayat MLA from Congress from Kushtagi, had claimed that he got a call from BJP leaders asking him to cross over.
As speculation was rife that Shamanur Shivashankarappa, president, All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, who was unhappy with the Congress’ move on the minority religion tag to Lingayats, would himself crossover along with a few Lingayat MLAs, he was forced to clarify that he would not.
Speaking to media persons outside the KPCC office in Bengaluru, before attending the Congress Legislature Party meeting, he said that no Lingayat-Veerashaiva MLA from Congress would move to BJP.
Amid desperate attempts by the BJP to reach the magic number, the JD(S) chief, Kumaraswamy, on Wednesday alleged that the BJP was trying to bribe the newly-elected MLAs from his party with Rs 100 crore each.
Though the BJP flatly denied the allegation, the spotlight agaain fell on another MLA H Nagesh, an independent from Mulbagal, over his speculated support to parties in the crucial number game in Karnataka.
Mulbagal MLA H Nagesh is a former Congress member from the constituency. Nagesh was a member of the Congress party and also an aspirant for the ticket from Mulbagal. However, the Congress decided to give the ticket once again to MLA G Manjunath.
However, after the Karnataka High Court found Manjunath guilty of lying about his caste, the Congress was not allowed to contest polls from Mulbagal. By then Nagesh had decided to contest as an independent with support from the Congress.
Whispers of defections and rumours of horse trading grew louder after several Congress lawmakers skipped the Legislative Party meeting on Wednesday.
In a dramatic turn of events, BS Yeddyurappa was on Thursday morning sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
He was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Vajubhai Vala at a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan, whhich was attended by a host of BJP leaders and Union Ministers.