JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda (C), speaks with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad (L) as they stage a dharna in front of the Gandhi Statue against the Karnataka governor’s order to invite BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa to take oath as the new CM of the state. Photo: PTI
JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda (C), speaks with Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad (L) as they stage a dharna in front of the Gandhi Statue against the Karnataka governor’s order to invite BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa to take oath as the new CM of the state. Photo: PTI

Congress, JD(S) plan ‘resort politics’ to protect MLAs from poachers

The Congress legislators are currently at Eagleton Golf Resorts, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, while the JD(S) legislators are in a five-star hotel within the city

Bengaluru: The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), who formed a post-poll alliance after Tuesday’s fractured verdict, are likely to ferry all their legislators out of Karnataka to protect them from being poached by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the vote of confidence, scheduled to take place within the next 15 days, where the latter has to prove that it has simple majority to remain in power.

The Congress legislators are currently at Eagleton Golf Resorts, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, while the JD(S) legislators are in a five-star hotel within the city.

The latest decision to house newly elected legislators to prevent them from being poached by rivals is another example of what has come to be known as “resort politics".

Pioneered by late Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao around 1984, resort politics has been used by political parties in states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Interestingly, Karnataka has been the destination of choice for this type of politics.

“Nothing is finalized yet, but all (Congress legislators) are at Eagleton currently," Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress working president said on Thursday. He added that the party has Kerala and two other options (which he did not name), if they do decide to leave the state.

The JD(S) and the Congress joined hands for a post-poll alliance to cross the revised simple majority mark of 112, after no party managed to get a majority on its own after the assembly election results were announced on Tuesday. The number will be further revised to 111 as JD(S) state chief H.D. Kumaraswamy, who won from two seats, will have to vacate one of them.

The BJP won 104, the Congress won 78, and the JD(S) 38, including one from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), its ally. One independent and another from the newly formed Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party won a seat each among the 222 seats that went to polls on 12 May.

Though the Congress-JD(S) had staked claim to form the new government as it had a combined strength of around 117, Karnataka governor invited B.S.Yeddyurappa the BJP to form the government and prove his majority in 15 days.

Mining baron Anand Singh, the newly elected Congress legislator from Vijayanagara in Ballari, is suspected to have jumped back to the BJP camp, according to senior Congress leaders. Singh could not be reached for comment, but he is not one of the signatories in Congress letter of support that was submitted to the governor on Tuesday. Suspecting that more may follow Singh into the rival camp, legislators are being kept on a tight leash and being treated lavishly to avoid any tendency to defect.

Commonly known in political parlance as ‘horse trading’, the Congress and JD(S) are taking no chances to thwart any attempts by the BJP to get at least eight seats to cross the halfway mark. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday said that the BJP had contacted almost all its legislators.

“Many of the CoNgress and JDs MLAs won by fighting each other. Most of them are not in a position to face people if they join together and that’s what they communicated to us. We are in touch with all of them and we are confident of getting support of minimum 120. #BSYNammaCM," Shobha Karandlaje, member of Parliament and general secretary of BJP Karnataka, said on microblogging site Twitter on Thursday.

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