Cong warns MLAs against BJP barrage

Bangalore: The Congress on Monday gave a pep talk to its legislators, advising them to ignore BJP propaganda about "differences" between the party and ally Janata Dal Secular, who are set to form a coalition government this week.

"We thought it imperative to give them a motivational talk as a vaccination against the BJP propaganda about the alleged quarrel over the sharing of cabinet berths," a Congress official said.

Most of the Congress's 78 legislators have been herded together in a Bangalore hotel as a shield against any poaching attempts before the floor test that chief minister-designate H.D. Kumaraswamy is expected to take soon.

Former chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah and state president G. Parameshwara addressed the MLAs about the sacrifices made by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, whose death anniversary was observed on Monday.

Several BJP politicians have been claiming publicly that the Congress-JDS government will collapse within months because of the "differences" between the post-poll allies.

B.S. Yeddyurappa told reporters he was going on a state-wide tour to prepare the party for another Assembly election in the near future.

"This government is not going to last. So I'm heading out to the villages to educate people on the problems of an unstable government," he said.

Yeddyurappa aide Shobha Karandlaje alleged an outbreak of infighting between the Congress and the JDS over the spoils of power.

Almost all BJP politicians attending TV talk shows have been mouthing the same line.

Congress sources said that Monday's meeting was held mainly to motivate the lawmakers and not to discuss the distribution of cabinet berths.

"The cabinet berths will be decided by our party president, Rahul Gandhi, in consultation with the state unit leaders who met him today in Delhi," a Congress official said.

JDS spokesperson V. Raghavendra Rao echoed the Congress and accused the BJP of spreading lies.

"There are simply no differences between the Congress and us. We are working towards forming a coalition government that will last its term," Rao said.

"It's a no-brainer that the BJP's dirty tricks department will continue trying to destabilise us. But our alliance is determined to keep the BJP away from Karnataka."

He added: "Our priorities are exactly the same. Both partners want pro-people governance. This is also going to be the first step towards a non-BJP secular coalition for 2019."

Preparations are under way to build a stage in front of the Vidhana Soudha, the Assembly-cum-secretariat, for Wednesday's swearing-in.

Chief ministers Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Pinarayi Vijayan, K. Chandrashekar Rao and N. Chandrababu Naidu are among these likely to attend the event.


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