Karnataka to be a fort for Cong MLAs of Telangana and Rajasthan

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With Karnataka’s Deputy CM in the lead, the party has oiled its political machinery to protect its MLAs from poaching .

(Shankar)

The Congress party in Karnataka has been put on alert to ‘protect’ the elected MLAs in  Telangana and Rajasthan as exit polls suggest either a clear advantage for the party or a narrow win in the recently held Assembly elections.

Party sources said the high command does not want to be caught napping as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS),  headed by K Chandrasekhar Rao, may poach Congress MLAs in case the verdict gives the party only a narrow lead.

The BJP also may give an indirect helping hand to the BRS to prevent the Congress from coming to power in the State ahead of the general elections next year.

Similarly, the Congress is keen on protecting its MLAs in Rajasthan where the needle of victory is in favour of the BJP. But the saffron party may poach Congress MLAs if the half way mark is not achieved.

Party sources said Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar has been asked to keep a watch if the Telangana and Rajasthan MLAs need to be shifted to Bengaluru to prevent horse trading.

DKS had camped for days in Telangana planning election campaigns. He had also actively campaigned in many parts of the state.In Rajasthan too he was actively involved.

DKS is known to the Man Friday of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi and is known for his political crisis management skills.

DKS has experience  in protecting party MLAs from poaching. In August 2017, 44 MLAs from Gujarat were housed by him in a resort in Bengaluru ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha polls.

With DKS around, Karnataka is an obvious choice for the Congress, but other cities are also being explored.

A decision on relocating MLAs will likely be made after the counting of votes on Sunday. “If Congress falls short of the half way mark in Telangana and Rajasthan, the proposal is to move legislators to Bengaluru or another location, possibly confining them to a hotel or resort,” a senior leader was quoted by the media.

The Telangana Assembly has 119 seats and 60 is the magic number for government formation. Some exit polls predict a narrow majority for Congress, but many have predicted an outright win for the party.

(Author is a senior Editor and a political analyst based at Bengaluru)

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