Shettar govt in fresh trouble, 13 MLAs back BSY show of strength

FP

As former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa formally launched his Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) at a mega rally in Haveri on Sunday, 13 BJP MLAs defied the party leadership to attend the event, leaving a question mark on the majority enjoyed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in the 224-member Assembly.

The BJP has a total of 118 elected members in the Assembly at present, with the Congress at 71, JD(S) at 26, Independents at seven and two seats lying vacant.

Addressing the rally, which was attended by about four lakh people, Yeddyurappa said: "I have just heard that the BJP is going to take action against the 13 legislators present at this meeting. If you have the guts, dissolve the state assembly and go to polls...''

Stating that Shettar had become the chief minister with his support, he asked him to "resign because you don't have the numbers."

Targeting his fellow Lingayat leader, he said: "I made Shettar the chief minister and gave him authority because we wanted a chief minister from north Karnataka. Now Shettar has joined hands with the national leadership and is trying to play with us. If you have the guts, dissolve the Assembly and let us go before the people."

Though as many as 20 legislators, including seven ministers, were present at a breakfast meeting hosted by Yeddyurappa earlier in the day, the ministers chose to skip the KJP rally. However, the number of MLAs associated with the KJP on Sunday was a far cry from the 40 that was projected by the Yeddyurappa group.

Though Yeddyurappa himself had publicly asked MLAs supporting him to stay away from the rally, he is believed to have tried to convince MLAs in private to show up at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the BJP has threatened "strict action" against its MLAs who support the KJP. Shettar had on Saturday suspended close Yeddyurappa aide B J Puttaswamy, an MLC, and G S Basavaraj, an MP, for identifying with the KJP. "There is no question of tolerating indiscipline,'' Shettar said today.

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