K’taka rebels` olive branch to BJP central leaders
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 21, 2010, 00:12
  
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us, we are ready to discuss," former Minister Balachandra L Jarkiholi, a leader of 11 dissident BJP MLAs, who have withdrawn support to the party government threatening its survival, told reporters here.

"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," he said.

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 release.

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.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, October 21, 2010, 00:12


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