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BENGALURU: Even though the numbers are stacked against it, the confidence of BJP leadership to pass the floor test to be held on Saturday has added to the suspense of the political drama that is unfolding in Karnataka.The party, which is well short of the halfway mark with a tally of 104 in a House of 222, is putting up a brave front even after the Supreme Court ordered to hold the floor test at 4 pm on Saturday, reducing the 15-day window given by the Governor to prove majority.
Though the party leaders refused to divulge the rationale behind their confidence, the party in essence is confident of ensuring abstention and cross-voting by many Congress and JD(S) members to ensure victory for Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa.The party is working on a clear game plan to muster the magic number of 111, in the House which has an effective strength of 221 as JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, who has won from two constituencies, can cast only one vote in the floor test. The Congress-JD(S) combine has an effective strength of 117. The election for two of 224 constituencies has been put off.
Sources said the BJP started the ground work to face this challenge even before the counting of votes. Party’s backroom boys had opened communicatio channels with 18 to 20 Congress and JD(S) members who were seen as sure to win and “vulnerable”.While Congress and JD(S) leaders are accusing BJP leaders of trying to draw their MLAs with offers of `100 crore to `150 crore and threats of IT raid, there is more to this game of numbers, say sources.
The BJP is playing the caste card aggressively to pull Veerashava-Lingayat MLAs from the Congress. Seers of some of the Lingayat mutts are also helping the party in this regard, appealing to MLAs from the community in other parties “not to be part of the conspiracy to prevent a Lingayat from becoming the CM”, said sources privy to the “operation.”
The party is also said to be trying use the same ploy to draw Scheduled Tribe MLAs from other parties as the party has already created a buzz about making Sriramulu, an ST leader, the Deputy CM if the party wins the trust vote. The families of these MLAs are also being contacted with an appeal explaining the “advantages of supporting the BJP”.
With KG Bopaiah being elected as the pro-tem Speaker, BJP has a strength of 103 and the magic number needed comes down to 111. The party has to ensure cross-voting by at least 7 MLAs from rival parties to reach the figure of 110, and that would result in a tie, providing an opportunity for Bopaiah to cast his vote. Or, it must see to it that at least 14 MLAs from the rival camp abstain, which would bring down the effective strength of the house to 206.
The BJP with a strength of 103 (minus Speaker) would be on a par with the Cong-JD(S) combine and could win the floor test as the Speaker could cast his vote.Thus the challenge boils down to BJP’s ability to ensure abstention of at least 14 members from the rival camp or cross-voting of 7 members. For Cong-JD(S) combine, the challenge is to see that their entire flock takes oath as members and cast their vote according to the party whip.
While the Cong and JD(S) members are exuding a sense of confidence of keeping their flock together with the deterrence of anti-defection law, the strategists in BJP brush aside the argument. “What happened to the disqualification petition against 7 JD(S) MLAs in the previous assembly when K B Koliwad was the Speaker. These MLAs later joined Congress as the Speaker failed to deliver his verdict and they completed their term without any hiccups,” a BJP strategist pointed out hinting at the developments that could unfold on Saturday.
We will win with 120 votes: Karandlaje
CM Yeddyurappa was confident, while addressing media persons today, that his party will easily win the confidence motion. BJP State General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje sounded more bullish, saying that the party will not just win the confidence motion but will win it with 120 votes.