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3 "Missing" Karnataka Lawmakers Spoil Congress Headcount Amid Rebellion
Three "missing" Karnataka lawmakers remain a big worry for the Congress even though the party says it has successfully dodged the BJP's "Operation Lotus" to topple its coalition government in a coup.
The Congress has ordered all its legislators to show up at a meeting in Bengaluru where attendance is a must and absence will be seen as exit from the party.

The "rebel" Congress legislators are believed to be in a hotel in Mumbai, along with two independent lawmakers. Reports say a BJP parliamentarian, Sanjay Ramchandra Patil, visited the hotel this morning to meet them. Among the legislators is Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was openly upset about being denied a place in Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's recent cabinet expansion.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who is the leader of the Congress Legislature Party, said he had asked Ramesh Jarkiholi's brother Satish Jarkiholi to call him. So far, it doesn't seem to have produced any results.

Ramesh Jarkiholi, worryingly for the Congress, has been incommunicado since Tuesday. On Wednesday, two legislators who had gone into "hiding" with him returned to Bengaluru and surfaced near a Congress meeting.

All of Wednesday, Satish Jarkiholi, a first-time legislator who was made a minister in the cabinet rejig even as his brother was dropped, reportedly tried to get him to come around.

"I'm not ordering the legislators to be present. It's the BJP's allegation," said Mr Siddaramaiah, hitting out at the BJP's BS Yeddyurappa, who has been accused by the Congress of trying to induce its lawmakers to cross over.

"Yeddyurappa was chief minister and has been accusing me of poaching MLAs. Does he have any self-respect," Mr Siddaramaiah asked.

One of the Congress lawmakers gone AWOL is B Nagendra, who vehemently denies he is in touch with the BJP. "I went to Mumbai for personal reasons. I have business there and go there from time to time. Don't take it in any other way that I was in contact with someone. I'm not against anyone. I'm not going to BJP. I don't know about Ramesh Jarkiholi," Mr Nagendra told reporters.

The Congress rebels camping at a luxury hotel in Mumbai and 104 BJP lawmakers sequestered at a resort in Gurgaon near Delhi this week set the stage for what many believed was a Karnataka coalition crash engineered either by the BJP or within the Congress. The speculation peaked after two independent lawmakers withdrew support from the Kumarasamy-led Congress-Janata Dal Secular government.

The Congress repeatedly called it a redux of "Operation Lotus (the BJP's election symbol)" - the name given for the BJP's alleged attempts to lure away lawmakers from the Congress-Janata Dal Secular government.

After the return of two of the missing Congress lawmakers, the ruling coalition leaders said the BJP had aborted its coup attempt.

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The JDS-Congress alliance has 118 lawmakers in the 225-member Karnataka assembly, where the majority mark is 113.