Bangalore: Appearing to soften their stand
for the first time since they triggered a crisis for BJP`s
first government in the South, rebel party MLAs on Wednesday offered
to talk to central leadership but are firm on replacement of
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, calling him "corrupt".
The offer came even as the new single judge bench of the
high court today adjourned to tomorrow the hearing on the
petitions by the rebel MLAs, who contended that the Speaker`s
order was vitiated and perverse and their action (withdrawing
support) did not attract provisions of anti-defection law.
Beleaguered Yeddyurappa, meanwhile, rejected opposition
demand for seeking a fresh mandate and asked them to wait for
two-and-half years for the government to complete its term.
"If (BJP President) Nitin Gadkari calls us, we are ready
to discuss," former Minister Balachandra L Jarkiholi, a leader
of 11 dissident BJP MLAs, who have withdrawn support to the
party government threatening its survival, told reporters
"We are in BJP, our fight is against the leadership," said
Jarkiholi, flanked by some other rebel BJP MLAs, who have
challenged in the Karnataka High Court their disqualification
by the Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah.
The matter was heard by Justice V G Sabhahith after it was
referred to the new single judge bench following a split
verdict by a division bench comprising Chief Justice J S
Khehar and Justice N Kumar on Monday. Khehar had upheld the
Speaker`s order disqualifying the 11 MLAs while Justice Kumar
set it aside.
But Jarkiholi asserted that any talk should be held in an
atmosphere of affection and trust, and "not pointing a gun to
the head, like it happens in Afghanistan".
Seeking to send a clear message to Opposition Congress and
JD-S that his elected government would complete the five year
manadate given by the electorate, Yeddyurappa said he would
not accept their demand for seeking a fresh mandate.
Asked whether the BJP would accept the return of 11 rebel
MLAs if they won their case in high court, he said "that
situation would not arise at all."
Former Minister and rebel MLA Anand Asnotikar was pleased
that some ministers including R Ashok and G Janardhana Reddy
referred to the rebel MLAs as "our legislators".
Another former minister and dissident BJP MLA Shivanagouda
Naik said there was still room for reconciliation between the
rebel camp and the ruling party.
Naik said senior party leaders such as Gadkari, Arun
Jaitley, M Venkaiah Naidu, H N Ananth Kumar and Karnataka
Ministers Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy should
convene a meeting and hold discussions with the rebels and
effect a leadership change.
He insisted that the rebels` fight is only in regard to
change of the Chief Minister. "We want the party to grow and
our intention is to see that the party`s image is salvaged,"
Earlier in the day, the BJP led by party MLA Vijay Kumar
staged a protest in front of the residence of opposition
Congress leader in the Assembly Siddaramaiah accusing his
party of holding rebel BJP MLAs hostage and demanding their
BJP also announced a protest tomorrow in front of a resort
where it alleged the rebel MLAs were being sheltered by JD-S.
The sudden rebellion by a section of MLAs had put a
question mark on the stability of the government with Governor
H R Bhardwaj asking Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the
Assembly twice in the span of four days.
On October 11, Yeddyurappa`s confidence motion was
declared passed by voice-vote by the Speaker but it was termed
unconstitutional by the Governor, who asked him to seek a
second floor test three days later.
Yeddyurappa managed to sail through with 106 votes cast in
his favour and 100 against with the effective strength of the
224-member House coming down to 118 after the disqualification
of 11 BJP and five independent MLAs.