- Karnataka budget this afternoon after legislative party meetings
- Two rebel Congress legislators may be sacked today, sources said
- Rebel leaders have been warned of disqualification
Even as the BJP continued to disrupt the Karnataka assembly over the ruling coalition's continuance in power, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday gave away prime positions in the government to potential rebels in an effort to pacify them before he presents the state budget today.
Among the beneficiaries of this move are lawmakers Pratap Gowda Patil, Basaveshwaranagar Daddal and MA Gopalaswamy. While Mr Daddal has been appointed as chairman of the Scheduled Tribes Welfare Board, Mr Gopalaswamy is the new parliamentary secretary to Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar. Disgrunted MLA Umesh Jadhav -- found to be absenting himself from Congress Legislative Party meetings despite repeated warnings -- has been replaced by Mr Patil as the chairman of the Warehouse Corporation.
The budget session will be held at 12.32 pm, following legislative party meetings by the Congress, BJP an JDS. Sources said Mr Jadhav and another dissident, Ramesh Jharkiholi, may be sacked by the Congress today.
The Congress has issued a whip requiring all its legislators to abide by the directives of the chief whip, failing which they would be disqualified and further banned from contesting the polls for the next six years.
The state assembly had to be adjourned on two occasions on Thursday, after opposition BJP MLAs rushed to the well of the House with claims that the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government no longer has a majority. The absence of several Congress legislators provided the BJP with the ammunition required to target the ruling coalition.
However, as no Congress MLA has resigned from the party so far, the coalition still officially has 118 MLAs in a House with 113 as its halfway mark. Earlier today, the Congress leadership had exuded confidence that all the party MLAs will be present for the budget.
Meanwhile, BJP member R Ashok alleged that superstitious beliefs were behind the ruling coalition's decision to present the budget presentation exactly at 12.32 pm today. "The budget has always been presented at 11 or 12 o'clock, never like this. This particular time was fixed by HD Revanna, Mr Kumaraswamy's brother, who always has a lemon (to ward off the evil eye) in his possession," he said, adding that tomorrow's budget would be an "astrology budget" and not a public one.