BENGALURU: Even as Congress and JDS leaders are busy fire-fighting to keep the coalition government afloat after the drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, a meeting of disgruntled Congress legislators Ramesh Jarkiholi and Dr Sudhakar with BJP leaders at veteran S M Krishna’s residence on Sunday has sparked off much speculation.
Both sides termed it “coincidence”. But what is interesting is that Sudhakar and Ramesh, who have earlier minced no words in expressing their displeasure with the coalition government, chose the same time that senior BJP leaders, including state president B S Yeddyurappa, were scheduled to arrive at Krishna’s residence.
“I haven't spoken to them (Congress MLAs). Yeddyurappa and I came to visit S M Krishna. I stayed back since I had to discuss party matters with the senior leader. Congress legislators admire Krishna and had paid a courtesy call on him. This is Krishna’s house, not a political place. It is just a coincidence,” claimed BJP MLA R Ashok.
Miffed over being dropped from the coalition cabinet, Ramesh Jarkiholi has been in the forefront of cobbling up a team of disgruntled Congress MLAs.
Sudhakar, who was denied chairmanship of the pollution control board after initially being appointed, has dropped hints of considering quitting the Congress time and again.
“I came to meet S M Krishna because he is our leader. I am alone,” Ramesh Jarkiholi said when asked if the meeting had anything to do with his dissent against the Congress.
“Krishna is my political guru, well-wisher and a father-figure. My visit was personal. I meet him now and then. This was only a courtesy call,” said Chikkaballapur MLA Dr Sudhakar.
The meeting came on the day Mandya MP-elect Sumalatha Ambareesh and BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa too visited the senior Vokkaliga leader.
“There is neither work nor conspiracy. They admire S M Krishna and visited him as a matter of courtesy. Them being present at the same time I visited is mere coincidence. There is no need to add any meaning to it,” said Yeddyurappa, denying any conspiracy to topple the coalition government or fanning dissent in Congress.
Sources in the BJP as well as Congress suggest that close to nine legislators of the coalition, JDS included, are likely to jump ship and support the BJP.
Jarkiholi meeting BJP leaders on the pretext of visiting SM Krishna could have been a deliberate attempt at letting the Congress leadership know their intentions, the sources suggested.
“There are opportunists in every party. After the results were announced, there seems to be more willingness on the part of some of our legislators to cross over,” said a JDS source.
The Congress-JDS coalition is placed precariously after BJP won the Chincholi assembly seat in the recent bypoll, taking its tally to 105. Another wave of rebellion or dissent is expected to cause much damage to the coalition.