Nataka continues in Karnataka: After witnessing slip between cup and the lip, Congress struggles hard to keep its herd together; two of its MLAs ditch the party

Nataka continues in Karnataka
Congress MLAs Pratapgouda Patil and Anand Singh.

Once the “poorest” legislator of Congress Pratapgouda Patil takes a private jet to fly to an unknown location; before him another Congress MLA Anand Singh had taken a decision of “Ghar Vapsi” to his former party BJP

The Hush Post: Nataka (drama) continues in Karnataka post the announcement of Assembly election results. Amidst the allegations and counter-allegations of horse trading, two of the Congress MLAs have sneaked out of the stable of the Congress.

Earlier on Wednesday, the newly elected MLA from Vijayanagara, Anand Singh had taken a decision of “Ghar Vapsi” (read returning to his former party) towards his former party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now another Congress MLA Pratapgouda Patil, who has been elected from Maski constituency, has reportedly sneaked out of the Congress ranks. Once the termed as “poorest” legislator of the Congress, Pratapgouda Patil reportedly took a private jet to fly to an unknown location.

Nataka continues in Karnataka
Congress MLAs Pratapgouda Patil and Anand Singh.

Sources in the Karnataka Congress said that Pratapgouda did not board the bus to Eagleton Resorts on Wednesday night. The Congress had taken all of its legislators to Eagleton Resorts to keep them safe from any horse trading. Sources said that after some hours, it was found that Pratapgouda had taken a flight out of HAL Airport in Bengaluru. This indicates that a private plane was arranged for Pratapgouda. It was reported that Somasekhara Reddy of the BJP had engineered this defection.

A report said that Pratapgouda Patil (63) was once touted to be the ‘poorest’ MLA in Karnataka, with assets worth just Rs 40 lakh in 2013. But, in the affidavit filed for the 2018 election, Pratapgouda declared an income of Rs 17.5 lakh, and total assets (movable and immovable) worth Rs 5.5 crore. His wife, Padmavathi, has assets worth Rs 58.8 lakh. He has declared that he is an agriculturalist and that his income comes from agriculture, and his salary as an MLA and from other allowances, the report said.

“We are very confident as far as our MLAs are concerned. We are in fact planning to send them back to their constituencies for now. The Congress, however …Two MLAs are uncertain. One of them is Anand Singh. The other is Pratap Gowda Patil. He went from the resort to HAL Airport at 4.40 am and took a flight out of Bengaluru. As far our next move is concerned, we are not worried,” a JD(S) source was quoted as saying.

Pratapgouda had won a very hard fought contest in Maski this time by defeating BJP’s Basanagowda Turvihal by just 213 votes to retain his seat.

But while he contested and won on a Congress ticket in 2013 and now in 2018, in 2008, he won on a BJP ticket from the same constituency.

The other legislator Anand Singh is a known turncoat. The former minister in the BJP government, Anand Singh had defected to the Congress only in January to get a seat for the Assembly elections. There was high speculation on Wednesday morning when he did not turn up at the Legislature Party meeting of the Congress, and by evening, it was confirmed by sources that he had switched again to support the BJP, the report said.

The defection by Pratagouda and Anand Singh came even as BS Yeddyurappa of the BJP took oath as the Karnataka’s Chief Minister on Thursday after Governor Vajubhai Vala invited him as the Legislature Party leader of Karnataka’s single largest party. But the battle is not yet over for the saffron party. The BJP has to prove a majority on the floor of the Assembly within 15 days, as the Governor has pronounced. Further, the fact that the Supreme Court has sought their letter to the Governor on Friday, it is up for question whether that 15-day deadline will be shortened further, the report said.

For him to win the floor test, Yeddyurappa needs to cross the halfway mark in the Assembly – that is, he has to get more than half the number of people present and voting to vote in his favour, it was reported.

While the strength of the Karnataka Assembly is 224, two of the constituencies did not go to the polls and HD Kumaraswamy won from two constituencies and has to resign from one. The strength of the House, therefore, is 221 currently.

However, the BJP has only 104 MLAs. For them to win the vote, it’s not just enough to ‘make up’ the remaining 8 MLAs to reach the halfway mark of 221 – anti-defection laws and the fate of Tamil Nadu MLAs who voted against the whip in Edappadi Palaniswami’s floor test shows that any Congress or JD(S) MLA who votes against their party will be disqualified. What the BJP will, therefore, be hoping for is that the number of MLAs present and voting comes down – and the formula for that is either 11+2 (get 11 MLAs from Congress and JD(S) to abstain, and get the two independents to vote with them), 13+1 (13 MLAs to abstain and one independent with them) or 15 (to abstain), the report said.

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