Congress's troubleshooter in Karnataka, DK Shivakumar, told NDTV on Tuesday that he is in touch with the rebel MLAs from Madhya Pradesh who are in Bengaluru, and that most of them will return to the party. "19 MLAs are under 'police custody' in Karnataka," he told NDTV. Resignation letters the 21 MLAs -- said to loyalists of former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia -- have brought the Kamal Nath government to the brink of collapse. Another Congress leader claimed the MLAs were misled by Mr Scindia and are in touch with Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Bengaluru being a 'go-to' place for rebel MLAs of any party, Mr Shivakumar has often been the pointsperson in case of Congress MLAs, often making a last ditch effort to save the situation. Last year, when the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy's alliance government was pulled down by a group of rebels from both parties, he was deputed to reason with the MLAs.
This time, asserting that most of the rebel MLAs of Madhya Pradesh will return, Mr Shivakumar told NDTV, "I won't reveal our strategy but this isn't over. This may not even be a long drawn affair... they may return soon".
Since Monday, when the MLAs were taken to Bengaluru by a chartered flight, the Congress has been insisting that the Madhya Pradesh government is safe.
After a party meeting in Bhopal on Tuesday evening, Congress's Shobha Oza claimed that the MLAs were misled and are in contact with Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
"The ministers who have been misled by Scindia, they are angry about going to BJP. They are in contact with the Chief Minister. There is no danger to the government. The Chief Minister has said that those who have gone, were told that they were taken for a meeting. They were misled. We will prove majority," the leader claimed.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath's government had 120 MLAs - just four over the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly. If the resignation of the 21 MLAs is accepted, the majority mark will slide to 104. The BJP will have 107 MLAs and the Congress 100, including support from the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and independents.
Senior party leader PC Sharma claimed that Chief Minister Kamal Nath is ready with a "master stroke", but declined to elucidate.
Congress MLA Bisahu Lal, one of those who resigned on Tuesday, has meanwhile joined the BJP. Addressing reporters, he claimed several other Congress leaders were waiting to join the BJP.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah this morning -- is expected to join the BJP later this week. The Congress expelled him on Tuesday after his resignation letter, addressed to party chief Sonia Gandhi, became public.
At a meeting of Congress legislature party at Kamal Nath's residence this evening, a unanimous resolution was passed that said the way BJP "violated the democratic principles by hurting the expectations and aspirations of the 7.5 crore people, should be condemned".
"The state's opposition party BJP has shamed the democracy by trying to lure and torture representatives to make the chosen government unstable - we condemn that," the resolution read.