The power play between the ruling Congress-JDS coalition and BJP in Karnataka continued on Wednesday, as both sides escalated their war of words and went into an overdrive to keep their legislators together.
The Congress and JDS continued to present a picture of confidence about the brewing crisis blowing over, with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy saying things were "under control" and there was no reason for worry.
As the ruling partners unleashed a scathing attack on the BJP for allegedly trying to topple the government, BJP MLAs continued to be ensconced at a resort in Gurgaon, fearing poaching attempts.
According to Congress sources, a few ministers from the party have even offered to step down in the larger interest and to keep the coalition intact. The party leadership is also looking into the option, they added.
It was not known how long the 104 BJP MLAs, who went to New Delhi to attend the party's national council meeting but extended their stay, would remain cooped up in the resort.
Meanwhile, sources said BJP's Karnataka unit chief BS Yeddyurappa is likely to hold a meeting with the party MLAs who are camping at the resort and discuss the prevailing situation in the state.
They said the BJP legislators will stay put in Gurgaon till the party top leaders give the green signal to return to Karnataka.
Around 20 Youth Congress workers led by party's Haryana Pradesh Congress General Secretary Pradeep Singh raised slogans against the NDA government outside the resort.
The protesters alleged that the BJP was "disrespecting the Constitution and murdering democracy" in the country.
Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said in Bengaluru that it was not necessary for him to carry out "any operation" (poaching) and that he had sufficient numbers with him.
"Everything is under control..don''t worry," Mr Kumaraswamy said, trying to present a picture of being relaxed.
HD Kumaraswamy, whose government received a jolt on Tuesday when two Independent MLAs withdrew support to it, was asked if the ruling alliance would also launch a counter-strike on the BJP to lure its lawmakers.
The chief minister wanted BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa to explain if his party MLAs have been shifted to Gurgaon to celebrate Sankranthi or for any other reason.
Mr Kumaraswamy said his party MLAs were not being shifted to any resort, as being speculated in the media. "So I request media not to fool itself and the people of the state."
On five Congress MLAs, who are in Mumbai allegedly under BJP's control, Mr Kumaraswamy said, "I have been saying for the past three days that they are in touch with me, I''m in the know of all the developments."
"They may not be reachable to others, but they are reachable to me," he said in response to a question whether the five MLAs were accessible.
In New Delhi, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress-JDS government in Karnataka is "stable and strong" and accused the BJP of trying to destabilise it.
At a press meet, he said there was no crisis for the government in Karnataka.
Congress general secretary KC Venugopal asserted that none of his party legislators were going to quit.
"Not even one MLA is going to quit Congress. I have contacted my MLAs, and therefore, I am telling you this very confidently. In fact, by Thursday evening, you will have a clear picture about Karnataka," he told news agency Press Trust of India.
"It would be a big slap on the face of BJP as it is going to fail in its endeavour to bring the government down. Their shameless motive to destabilise the government is going to be a big failure. It will be a national shame for them," he said.
Speaking to reporters, Minister BZ Zameer Ahmad Khan, considered a "trouble shooter" for the Congress, said HD Kumaraswamy-led government faced no threat and BS Yeddyurappa was "daydreaming" about becoming chief minister once again.
Claiming that seven to eight BJP MLAs were in touch with them, he said "Let them (BJP) leave MLAs, seven to eight of them are ready to come to us..that''s the reason they are holding up MLAs."
Meanwhile, state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao told news agency PTI: "The entire confusion has been created by the BJP. Was that really required? They did it brazenly throwing morality and ethics to the wind.It's shameful and disgusting."
Seeking to allay fears over the stability of the Congress-JDS dispensation, Mr Rao said, "All our MLAs are intact and nobody is going anywhere. They are all with us together."
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and CLP leader Siddaramaiah met Mr Venugopal and held discussions.
The Congress has convened a meeting of its MLAs here on January 18 to take stock of the ongoing political developments.
A political turmoil has enveloped Karnataka since Monday triggered by horse trading charges over an alleged bid by the BJP to destabilise the coalition government.
Countering the allegations, the state BJP blamed the "unnatural" alliance between the Congress and JDS for the turmoil and said the ruling coalition was hiding its inability to keep its house in order by "unnecessarily" finding fault with the BJP.
State BJP general secretary CT Ravi said the Congress and JDS that entered into an unholy alliance, promising good administration, have betrayed the people of the state.
"Legislators of both the parties have now realised that this government cannot achieve anything," he said.
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