Siddaramaiah to hold talks with supporters

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Bangalore, July 7 (UNI) ''Disgruntled'' Congress leader Siddaramaiah is holding talks with his close aides in the city amid rumours that he might switch over to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by quitting his Karnataka Assembly seat.

Sources said the former Deputy Chief Minister was ''sore with the Congress'' which had ''failed to accommodate him'' in any responsible post.

During the last two days, the BJP had succeeded in roping in four legislators -- two each from the Congress and the Janata Dal (S), who resigned their seats and was tipped to contest in the bypolls on BJP ticket.

This comes in the wake of the saffron party, which fell three seats short of simple majority by securing 110 seats, forming the government with the support of six legislators. The party, keen to have a majority of its own, had roped in the four legislators and more were to follow, party sources claim.

Mr Siddaramaiah would leave for Mauritius on a five-day vacation tonight. The meeting, to be held before his departure tonight, has given rise to the speculation that he too may join the BJP shortly.

He has not been a ''happy man'' ever since he joined the Congress from JD(S), after falling out with JD(S) President H D Deve Gowda, as ''he had not been given his due'' by the party.

Reports said Mr Siddaramaiah was likely to join the BJP.

However, this had been initially denied by the leader from the Old Mysore area.

''Parties have routinely induced defections after elections are held and the recent incident is not an isolated happening. But the reports that I am joining the BJP is only a speculation. I am holding a meeting of my supporters today to discuss about such reports,'' Mr Siddaramaiah told newspersons here.

Meanwhile, his close aide Mr Satish Jarkiholi, the Congress legislator from Yamakanmardi in Belgaum district, said he, along with other supporters, which included half a dozen legislators, would abide by Mr Siddaramaiah's decision.

''We will not take any decision on our own but go along with our leader, whatever be his decision,'' he said.

Satish's brother Balachandra Jarkiholi, a former minister from JD(S) representing Arabhavi in Belgaum district, was one among the four legislators who joined the BJP during the last two days. The other three were Anand Ashnotikar of Congress, Shivangouda Naik and J Narasimhaswamy both from JD(S).

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