It's BJP vs Congres over claims of defections in Karnataka. (File photo)
With the Congress leadership in Karnataka claiming that some legislators and leaders from the ruling BJP are in touch with them, an MLA of the ruling party on Tuesday claimed that at least 16 legislators from the rival party are in contact with him and may switch, ahead of assembly polls, if the high command approves.
The claims and counterclaims between the ruling and the principal opposition party in the state have gained momentum, even as the assembly polls in the state are more than a year away.
As Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah on Tuesday reiterated his claims that few BJP and JD(S) leaders are in touch with him and he would not reveal their names, BJP MLA and former Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi hit back and claimed that at least 16 legislators from Congress are in contact with him.
"A total of 36 MLAs were in touch with me, from the coalition government days, out of that 17 of us came out (to join BJP), among the remaining 19, three are from JD(S), I'm not going to touch them because of my good bonding with H D Kumaraswamy (JDS leader)...rest of them, who could not come with us then due to technical reasons are still in touch with me," Mr Jarkiholi said.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he questioned why Siddaramaiah, who had declared in the assembly that the Congress will not take back any of those who had quit the party then and called them betrayers, is now claiming that some of them are in contact with him.
"....I will not take the names of 16 people who are in touch with me, I will speak the truth,, not for publicity, let's see if the high command (BJP) agrees to induct them. I hope they will make good decisions. Congress is sinking across the country, in the days to come, they will not have people to seek tickets at some places...," he added.
Mr Jarkiholi is credited for his key role in the collapse of the coalition government in 2019, as he is said to have led 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs, who quit their parties and subsequently joined BJP.
However, countering his claims, Siddaramaiah said, Mr Jarkiholi has been making such claims for many days now, and there was no need to give much importance to it. "According to me no one will go......BJP is now a sinking ship," he said.
Earlier in the day, Siddaramaiah had reiterated his claim that few BJP and JD(S) leaders are in touch with him and he would not reveal their names.
State Congress president D K Shivakumar too had made similar claims on Monday, as senior BJP legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal stated that some MLAs and Ministers, especially those who joined the saffron party from other parties, are in touch with the Congress leadership, and will jump ship, once the 2023 assembly poll schedule is announced.
However, reacting to these claims, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, there is no question of anyone leaving the BJP.
"It shows the amount of insecurity the Congress is facing, there is a fight between two leaders (Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah) there, there is a series coming out every month claiming who is with whom in their own party, as a result of it, they are making such claims," he said.
"There is no question of anyone going from the BJP, they (few leaders who are now Ministers in BJP govt) have come here stating that they don't want Congress, so there is no question of going there.....I don't want to comment on certain political developments that are taking place, but you will see things, wait for a few days, you will see how BJP will get strengthened politically," he added.