BENGALURU: A hint of BJP’s covert plans to rope in seven rebel JD(S) legislators through new entrant C.P. Yogeshwar as part of its strategy to shore up prospects in Old Mysore region in the run up to next year’s elections to the Legislative Assembly, prompted Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal to invite former minister B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan for a meet, and assure the entire group, party tickets, on Thursday.
While sources in the party said Mr Venugopal pressed Mr Khan not to take a hasty decision in defecting to the BJP, KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar told the media these legislators are already in the ruling Congress though technically they belong to JD(S) despite their suspension for cross-voting during Rajya Sabha polls in 2016. He said these legislators would formally join the party soon, and their interests would be protected, signaling that they would be given tickets for the Assembly polls. They delayed their formal exit from JD(S) to avert bypolls in their respective constituencies ahead of the Assembly elections, he added.
Sources pointed out that Mr Zameer Ahmed Khan and other legislators were assured of party tickets when they met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi in August.
Besides Mr Zameer Ahmed Khan, Mr H.C. Balakrishna, Mr Iqbal Ansari, Mr Ramesh Bandisiddegowda, Mr N Cheluvarayaswamy, Mr Akanda Srinivasamurthy and Mr Bheema Naik have agreed to join the Congress in the light of an assurance of tickets to contest from their respective constituencies, sources added.
Meanwhile, sources in BJP said state unit president B S Yeddyurappa assigned the task of wooing leaders of other parties in Old Mysore region to Mr Yogeshwar following an unsuccessful attempt by former deputy CM R. Ashok. Most leaders are upset with Mr Ashok for not succeeding in weaning away even second rung leaders of other parties, and failing to mobilize significant number of party workers and supporters at the inaugural of ‘Parivarthana rally’ in Bengaluru on November 2.
Sources said Mr Yogeshwar, an actor-turned-politician, holds sway over Vokkaligas in Channapatna and neighbouring constituencies as well as Mandya and Bengaluru (rural) districts, and therefore was the obvious choice to net leaders of other parties in this region. The upshot: Mr Yogeshwar not only reached out to these rebels JD (S) legislators but many second rung leaders as well. Mr Yogeshwar admitted to DC about his efforts to entice leaders of other parties to join the BJP. “There is an acute shortage of leaders in old Mysuru region. Few leaders of JD (S) and Congress have agreed to join the BJP after December 15, but I cannot disclose their names now. They have agreed to join the BJP when ‘Parivarthana Yatra’ enters Old Mysore region,” he said.