The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crossover but no party yet

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Eight MLAs from Karnataka — expelled from the BJP for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha — today joined the Congress but frantic lobbying by the state party unit prevented a “formal induction”.

The legislators will now be drafted into the party at a later date in Bangalore.

At 24 Akbar Road, the Congress national headquarters, there were many red faces today. The chairs had been kept ready to “introduce” the MLAs to the media but there was no sign of them. Spokesman Anand Sharma kept prolonging the brief but the MLAs did not turn up. Finally, he abruptly ended the news conference.

Earlier in the day, the MLAs, camping in Delhi for several days, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. While drafting them into the party, Sonia assured them that their “interests” would be protected, indicating that they would be given tickets in the next Assembly polls.

The news of Sonia’s assurance upset many in the KPCC, who said the “defectors” should not be rewarded. The anti-induction lobby, however, gave in and insisted that they should join the party in Bangalore.

State revenue minister Srikantaiah and AICC general secretary in charge of Karnakata Vayalar Ravi were present when the MLAs called on the Congress chief.

The MLAs are V. Krishnappa, V. Pappana, H.C. Basavaraj, Hanme Gowda, Gundappa Vakil, Barati Shankar, and A. Manju. Another expelled MLA who also got the green signal from Sonia, C. Guruswamy, was not present today.

Ravi said all the MLAs had voted for the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls and two sitting BJP MLAs, Kakodkar and Putturanganath, were also “in-principle with us since then”.

The eight MLAs were expelled for defying the party whip in the Rajya Sabha polls that resulted in the election of industrialist Vijay Mallya as an Independent.

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