Hours after four Congress lawmakers skipped the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, that was called as a show of strength against an alleged bid by the BJP to dislodge the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government in Karnataka, CLP leader Siddaramaiah said that Congress will issue notices to them seeking an explanation for their absence at the meeting. Siddaramaiah said that after receiving the replies from the absentee lawmakers, the issue would be discussed with the party high command and state leaders before deciding on the next step.
The lawmakers who didn’t attend the meet are - Ramesh Jarkiholi - who was dropped as a minister in the recent cabinet rejig, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav, and Mahesh Kumatahalli.
Siddaramaiah said Jadhav had written saying he would not be able to attend the meet as he was unwell, while Nagendra had spoken to AICC general secretary K C Venugopal conveying his inability to attend because of a court case. The other two MLAs had not communicated anything, the former chief minister said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said that all the four MLAs are in regular touch with him. “Nothing will happen, they will also come and join us. I am regularly in touch with them,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy on 4 MLAs not attending CLP meeting: Nothing will happen, they will also come and join us. I am regularly in touch with them. pic.twitter.com/QloCQoiGyw— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2019
Ahead of the CLP meet, Siddaramaiah had issue notices to all the party MLAs warning that their absence would be viewed "seriously" and action initiated according to the Anti-Defection law.
The absence of four lawmakers posed no imminent threat to the seven-month-old Congress-JDS government in the numbers game but suggested that all was not well within the Congress which is still wrestling with dissidence.
In the 224-member Karnataka Assembly, the BJP has 104 members, Congress 80 (including Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar), Kumaraswamy’s JD (S) has 37, BSP, KPJP and Independent one each. BSP is supporting the coalition government.