Bengaluru: The Opposition BJP’s Operation Lotus 3.0 to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government may have come to a premature end on Wednesday with the arrival in the assembly of the four Congress rebels and the one JD(S) member who had been hiding out for nearly eight weeks, since the cabinet expansion in late December, and declared their loyalty to their respective parties.

Led by Gokak MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who received a warm welcome, he and Congress rebel, Kudligi legislator Mr B. Nagendra, Mr Mahesh Kumtalli of Athani and Umesh Jadhav of Gurmitkal, they are likely to vote in favour of the state Budget on Thursday or Friday, when the Bill is put to vote, ending speculation about the Kumaraswamy government failing to muster the numbers in favour of the budget.

If the budget had been defeated in the Legislature, it would have been a big embarrassment for the coalition. Sources said the rebels may have decided to return to attend the proceedings fearing disqualification proceedings with CLP leader Siddaramaiah approaching the Speaker seeking their disqualification.

While JD(S) member Mr Narayana Gowda claimed that he was hospitalised in Mumbai due to food poisoning, the Congress rebels admitted that there was discontent but asserted that they would remain loyal to the party and not succumb to Operation Lotus.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Narayana Gowda was paraded before the media by Tourism Minister Mr Sa Ra Mahesh. Mr Gowda said that he had business in Mumbai and he kept visiting Mumbai to take care of his business. He also joked that he ‘earned his bread’ in Mumbai as Mr Sa Ra Mahesh did not gave him an opportunity to set up business in Karnataka.

The Congress rebels, who had earlier assembled in the house of former minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, said that they would attend the session. Mr Jarkiholi admitted that he had some problems in the party but added that he would resolve them in the party forum. On his visit to Mumbai, Mr Jarkiholi said that he was in the commercial capital in connection with his daughter’s wedding. He also said that he had a lot of relatives in Mumbai and he had to invite them.

Stating that he had many friends in BJP, including Dr Ashwathnarayana (Malleswaram MLA), Mr Jarkiholi said that there was nothing wrong in visiting their houses. He also asserted that he had never spoken about quitting the Congress.

Another Congress rebel, Kudligi legislator Mr B. Nagendra said that he would talk to the party high command on his problems. Mr Mahesh Kumtalli admitted that discontent in the party had touched extreme proportions but refuted rumours that Mr Jarkiholi was controlling him.

Refusing to comment on veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, rebel MLA Umesh Jadhav who was tipped to take on him as a BJP candidate in the Kalaburagi seat, said that he had already given an explanation to CLP leader Siddaramaiah, who was free to initiate action if he had committed any mistake. There were some local problems and these would be discussed with party leaders, he added.

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