Two out of the four disgruntled Congress MLAs, against whom a disqualification petition is pending with the assembly Speaker, on Friday met party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and reportedly pledged loyalty to the party.
“MLA Shri Nagendra and Shri Ramesh Jarkiholi met CLPleader Shri @siddaramaiah along with minister Shri Zameer Ahmed Khan,” Karnataka Congress said in a tweet.
Though what transpired at the meeting was not known, party sources calling it a one-to-one meeting said that the legislators pledged their loyalty to the party and requested the CLP leader to withdraw the disqualification petition while narrating their grievances.
Siddaramaiah is said to have advised both Jarkiholi and Nagendra not to take any decision in haste until the Lok Sabha elections are over, according to the sources.
The CLP leader on Thursday had said that his petition seeking disqualification of four disgruntled party MLAs was pending with the Speaker, who is the competent authority to take action under the anti-defection law.
The former Chief Minister said that his petition to the Speaker has nothing to do with the four MLAs attending the session since Wednesday, as he noted that the legislators have violated the whip in earlier instances.
The four disgruntled Congress MLAs, who had gone missing for several weeks amid political turmoil in Karnataka, surfaced on Wednesday two days after the party recommended their disqualification to Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar.
The lawmakers had kept the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings on January 18 and February 8. They had skipped the assembly Budget Session since February 6 and surfaced only on Wednesday.
The four– Ramesh Jarkiholi, Umesh Jadhav, B Nagendra and Mahesh Kumathali– were reported to be in touch with the BJP, which has been accused of trying to poach the MLAs to bring down the JDS-Congress government. Though Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumathali have not met Siddaramaiah, they had attended the session on Wednesday and Thursday.
Party insiders have said that Jadhav may have made up his mind to join the BJP and he has reportedly been promised Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat against Congress veteran Mallikarjuna Kharge, whom he considers arch rival.
Surprisingly, Kumathali known as close confidant of Jarkiholi kept away from Friday’s meeting, with reports of alleged cracks in ties between them. The Congress had petitioned the Speaker on Monday, seeking action against the four MLAs after warning them to mend their ways and fall in line. The MLAs were earlier given notices, seeking an explanation for their conduct and to meet Siddaramaiah in person, which they had not complied with.
According to sources, the four decided to attend the proceedings to vote in favour of the finance bill during the budget that concluded on Thursday, to save themselves from the disqualification move.