Crucial week for BJP government in Karnataka

Bangalore, Jan 27 (IANS) Karnataka's ruling BJP faces a crucial week beginning Monday, hoping that the party's lawmakers will not desert it to pull down the government ahead of the budget session Feb 4.

The BJP, as of now, is set to lose 13 of its 118 lawmakers in the 225-member assembly and speculation is rife that around 10 more may quit during the week.

The 13 include C.M. Udasi and Shobha Karandlaje, who Wednesday quit Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar's cabinet. Udasi was the public works minister while Karandlaje handled energy.

The 13 are loyalists of former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit the BJP and the assembly Nov 30 to float his Karnataka Janata Party (KJP)

Nehru Olekar, one of the 13 legislators who has emerged as the spokesperson of the rebel faction, claimed Saturday that at least 10 more BJP assembly members, including some ministers, would quit the ruling party ahead of the budget session.

The 13 lawmakers have been waiting since last Wednesday for assembly speaker K.G. Bopaiah to return to Bangalore from a foreign trip to submit their resignation letters.

Bopaiah is expected to resume work Jan 29. He returned from what he described as "a private trip" to Nepal late Friday.

Yeddyurappa himself has said that in addition to the 13 ready with their resignation letters, several BJP law makers, including ministers, would leave the ruling party soon.

The resignations are intended to prevent Shettar from presenting the budget for 2013-14 as that could help the BJP in the assembly elections due in May.

Shettar remained unfazed.

"There is no change. I don't know about that (nine more quitting). The position remains the same. We have majority," the chief minister told IANS Saturday.

He asserted: "I am confident of presenting the budget. We will face the budget session."

Asked whether he has any contingency or alternative plan if his government lost majority, the chief minister said: "We have numbers. There are no resignations yet. We will see. Let the speaker return to Bangalore."

The effective strength of the assembly now is 223 as two seats are vacant.

The BJP government has the support of one of the seven independent members, who is a cabinet minister.

The Congress has 71 members and the Janata Dal-Secular has 26. One is a nominated member.

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