Return of Rebels: After Weeks of Absence, 4 Congress MLAs Finally Show Up at Karnataka Assembly
The lawmakers had kept the Congress on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to CLP meetings and had been skipping the ongoing assembly Budget Session since February 6.
Congress MLAS Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumtahalli.
Bengaluru: 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 the state assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar.
In the early hours of Wednesday, a video of elusive Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi surfaced as he made his way through the Kempegowda International airport in Bengaluru. Jarkiholi, who has been miffed with the Congress for being dropped as a minister in December, was rumoured to be a key player in BJPâ€™s attempt of the alleged Operation Kamala 2.0.
Soon after, speculations became rife that the rebel MLAs had returned and would be present in the Assembly when legislators vote on the budget and other bills. On Tuesday evening, another whip was sent out, making it mandatory for all ruling coalition MLAs to ensure their presence at the session.
Jarkiholi, along with Bellary Rural MLA B Nagendra, Chincholi MLA Umesh Jadhav and Athani MLA Mahesh Kumtahalli -- who have come to be known as â€˜four rebels' -- finally showed up at Vidhan Souda at 12pm without much ado. Once inside the House, they were seen interacting with fellow Congress MLAs. Home minister MB Patil was seen having a conversation with B Nagendra and Ramesh Jarkiholi.
The lawmakers had been keeping the party on tenterhooks for several weeks, defying its whip twice to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meetings and had been skipping the ongoing assembly Budget Session since February 6.
Speaking to the media later, Jadhav dismissed rumours that he had gone to tender his resignation. "There should be no doubt that I am with the Congress. I am still unhappy with the party, but I have placed my demands before the top leadership. I have made legitimate demands and I leave it to them to decide," Jadhav said on being asked on his chances of being disqualified.
Kumtahalli, on his part, said that there was some misunderstanding between him and the Congress leadership. "I am not a child for someone to hold me back, I won't listen to anyone. There was some misunderstanding which should have been resolved earlier but got extended," said Kumtahalli, who didnâ€™t seem concerned about the party's decision of disqualification.
Reacting to their return, Congress leader DK Shivkumar said, "Now that they have returned it will be up to the CLP leaders to take a call on whether to disqualify them or not".
The MLAs in question first skipped the CLP meet on January 18, following which they were sent show-cause notices. Even though they responded via letters to the CLP chairman Siddaramaiah, none of them presented themselves before him to explain their absence.
In his initial reply, Jarkiholi said he was busy finding an alliance for his daughter. B Nagendra excused himself stating a court hearing. Jadhav, in a letter dated February 7, told CLP leader that â€œI am unable to attend the meeting for tomorrow on account of certain pre-occupation. Kindly excuse my absenceâ€.
However, on February 8 the party leadership had decided to take a strict action against the four, for which a petition seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law was submitted to the speaker. Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Monday moved a plea with the speaker Ramesh Kumar seeking their disqualification.
Kumar is likely to seek an explanation from each of these MLAs and only if he finds merit in their answers will they find their place back in the party.
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