Modi- A pet subject in school of hate

While on one hand the Indian Mujahideen has been attempting to regroup, on the other hand, Pakistan based terror groups have increased the focus on Gujarat. Police officials and Intelligence Bureau officials confirmed that there has been excessive activity in Gujarat and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad have been planning on assasinating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The past couple of weeks have seen a series of arrests. First six operatives of the Indian Mujahideen were picked up and then two Pakistani spies were also arrested. The arrest of Karachi based Soofia and Imran have led to a stockpile of information. After the arrest and during interrogation the duo revealed that they were in India at the behest of the ISI and their brief in specific was to get as much information on Modi so that they could lay out a plan to assasinate him.
Modi has been on the list of every terrorist organisation for quite sometime and intelligence agencies say that they have found plans being hatched to kill him by almost every terrorist that they have interrogated. Modi is a subject matter of discussion in every school of gate run by the jihadis. There are videos, scriptures and many such material on him which are used while recruitments are taking place.
Soofia and Imran during their interrogation pointed out that apart from the plan on Modi they were also asked to select and survey other targets in Gujarat. They said that the ISI had been planning a very big operation in Gujarat. However they did not provide more information and the police feel that the extent of their brief was only limited to this.
Another factor that came to light was that the ISI was using Nepal as a launch pad for operations in Gujarat. The ISI despite so much pressure still finds the Nepal base and route the easiest to operate from. Both Soofia and Imran were sent to Nepal from Karachi a couple of months back. They were then sent to Gujarat where they were told to undertake the job. They managed to get away initially without being noticed as they had no past record on them. However their movements during their India raised a suspicion following which they were picked up.
The police state that the duo were however not sent in to assasinate the Gujarat Chief Minister. Their job was specific to logistics. They have picked up some information but not to the extent the ISI would have expected. Moreover they have not been able to share much of the information as they were nabbed right in time, the IB and police pointed out. The other bit of information available is that the two of them did not belong to one particular outfit. They were working for the ISI and the agency in turn would have assigned the job of execution either to the Lashkae of JeM.
The interrogation of the six Indian Mujahideen operatives too has led to similar information. Most of them spoke about rebuilding the defunct IM module in Gujarat. They said that their modules were busted a great deal after the Ahmedabad blasts and the entire focus was to rebuild in that state. However they were exploring the option of setting stronger modules in the neighbouring states and use it as a launch pad in Gujarat.

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SMK plea adjourned

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing on a petition filed by External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna. Justice B V Pinto is likely to take up the matter for hearing tomorrow.
Krishna against whom an FIR was lodged in connection with the illegal mining case had moved the High Court challenging proceedings against him.
Meanwhile the Lokayukta police which filed FIRs against Krishna and two other former Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy continued their probe based on the private complaint filed against the trio. They say that there is no stay on the investigation and are following the orders of the Special Lokayukta Court which has sought a report from them by January 6th.

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‘IC 814-We were in a box’


Photo credit:

Prior to the Parliament attack ten years back India faced another embarrassing situation and that was the IC814, Khandahar incident. During that incident there was a hostage exchange and India handed Maulana Masood Azhar over. Now this man returned to Pakistan floated the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the same outfit carried out the deadly Parliament attack.

C D Sahay who was the Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) at that time took time off to speak to us about the events that led up to the Parliament attack. In this interview with, Sahay points out that the Khandahar incident and the Parliament attack cannot be linked with each other. The hijack was not aimed at destabilising the nation, but the only objective was to secure.

Ten years down and questions are being asked whether our investigators have failed to put out the real picture regarding the Parliament attack. What are your thoughts on the same?

You should understand that the Parliament attack was a very well planned operation and hence the leads that came out during the investigation were extremely limited. You cannot even compare it to the 26/11 attack in which one terrorist was caught alive. Most of the evidence in the 26/11 attack rested on the confession of Ajmal Kasab and the case was built up on the basis of that. However in the Parliament attack that was not the case and all the five terrorists were killed and hence it was very difficult to make a start. The investigation was based on the information gathered through which we could reach up to the planners of the attack. Looking at this I would say that our agencies did a very credible job during this attack.

Do you think that our agencies were in a hurry to close this case?

I would not say that. They have gone about their job well, picked up and also followed the leads properly. The fact that we did not have the perpetrators on hand itself was a constraint on the quality of the evidence that came the way of our probe agencies.

Do you think it was an intelligence failure?

I would say that the intelligence levels in our country at that point in time was deficient. Almost all matters pertaining to terrorism rested largely with the central intelligence agency. The state agencies never played an active role and they thought all matters pertaining to terrorism needs to be handled through telephone intercepts and the inputs provided by central agencies. This was the biggest problem at that time.

How do you compare the Parliament attack to the 26/11 attack?

Both are very big attacks. However personally I feel that the Parliament attack was a more serious one when compared to the 26/11 attack. They challenged the Parliament directly which means they were trying to hit at the very democratic set up of the nation. Economies can be built, but if democracy is hit, it takes forever to build it up. The terrorists were trying to hit at our democratic values and thankfully they did not succeed. Look at countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh and how they are struggling to build up their democracy. However when I look back I do not think that the Parliament attack raised the national concern that it should have. I just wish that more action was taken after the Parliament attack like what was done after the 26/11 attack.

Now coming to the Khandahar incident. Do you think India was very soft which eventually led up to the Parliament attack?

Khandahar was one part of the story. The limited objective was to secure the release of Maulana Masood Azhar. There were four attempts prior to this which attempted his release and it was an ongoing affair. The objective of IC 814 was not to destabilise the nation, but to secure the release of one man. However in the Parliament attack the symbol of our nation was attacked. There are many who speak about IC 814 and there are arguments galore whether this could have been handled in some other way. I was continuously associated with this incident and I have no hesitation in admitting that we were in a box. We had no other way of dealing with it because the persons who hijacked the plane had the support of the structure of a state. The entire state and machinery was sympathetic to their cause. All through we were not negotiating with the hijackers. We were negotiating with the ISI. Every conversation that we even shared with the hijackers was being bounced back to Mullah Omar and the ISI. It was Pakistan and the Taliban which was working together here and they were deciding on how to package the entire show to get Azhar released.

There have been allegations that India was soft during this operation.

We could not possibly launch a commando operation. The hijackers were welcome at Afghanistan and not us. We were looked at as terrorists. We did the best we could at that time and our objective was to save those who were taken hostage.

The question of war arose after the Parliament attack which eventually ended with an eye ball to eye ball confrontation between the two countries. What is your take on this?

This would be subjective as many believe that we should gone and blasted Pakistan out of shape. There are some who also believe that war was not the solution as it does not result in anything. However those in the defence back ground felt that it was time to teach Pakistan its final lesson.  We could have fought the war for 20 days, but the world is a different place and we would not have been allowed to fight that long. I am not trying to suggest that we should have remained soft so as to compromise on the core national interest. But one also needs to moderate the assessment. I for one feel that going to war would not have solved the problem.

So did we convey any message at the end of it after having our Parliament attacked?

Of course we did send a very strong message. The kind of mobilisation we had on the border did send a very strong message. Pakistan was worried sick as they realised that they could not match us. They saw the kind of mobilisation that was taking place and what worried them further that we did so at a very short notice. This probably was the biggest mobilisation in independent India. The message was well sent out.

Do you think that India has changed its approach after this attack?

There are claims that we are ready. However I still have very serious doubts that the structures that have been set up after 26/11 especially will stand the real test of any further attack.

The case against Afzal Guru and others

Afzal Guru. Photo credit: The Hindu

Speak of the Parliament attack and the first name that comes to mind is Afzal Guru. The fate of this man lies in the hands of the President of India who is to decide on his mercy petition that ha been filed 5 years back.

After filing the mercy petition the matter was pending before the President. It was once again sent to the Home Ministry for review and only recently was it rejected and sent back to the President of India.

The BJP has made this one of its prime issues every time it raises the subject of national security. There has been a lot spoken about how dangerous it is to keep him alive in jail lest it leads to another Khandahar type operation. They further argue that there is no reason for the Congress to be soft on Guru especially when the courts of the land have awarded him a death penalty after looking closely into the case.
During the course of arguments before the trial judge, High Court and the Supreme Court, the case of the prosecution was this: They told the courts that the conspiracy was hatched by Maulana Masood Azhar who led the Jaish-e-Mohammad. He instructed Ghazi Baba to carry out an attack on key installations in India including the Indian Parliament. Baba who was in charge of the JeM in Kashmir roped in a person by the name Tariq who roped in Afzal Guru and Mohammad Haider. It was alleged that Guru helped bring in the ammunition into Delhi with the help of his militant contacts. It was further alleged that Guru kept in touch with
Shaukat Hussain Guru, Shaukat’s wife Afzan Guru and S. A. R. Geelani. Prior to the attack the militants were in touch with Guru.
Further the prosecution also argued that through some of the phone numbers obtained after the arrest of Guru, they found the records to Geelani. It was also stated that it was Geelani who led the police to the other accused persons.
Those arguing in favour of Guru have another story to tell. The first point that they would put out is that the Supreme Court while convicting him had clearly mentioned that it had circumstantial evidence against him and he was neither the mastermind neither was he the executor of the attack. It is said that Guru had joined the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, but was unhappy and hence surrendered himself. Further it is contended that he had accompanied one of the accused Mohammad who purchased the ambassador car which was used during the attack, but did not know what he was actually accompanying him for.
While this is the law related to the case, the other point of contention in the political circles is that hanging Afzal Guru would mean the death of peace in Kashmir. Some within the valley would go on to contend that hanging Afzal Guru would be a mistake and the people would never trust the Indian government ever again which would effectively mean disruption of peace and a stumbling block leading up to the reselution of the Kashmir issue.
While Afzal Guru is one part of the story, the other story is the remaining absconders in this case. As per the chargesheet, the main accused is Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and his accomplices, Ghazi Baba and Tariq Ahmed. Ghazi Baba, according to security forces was killed in a gun battle a couple of years back.
India can claim that it has completed the probe in the Parliament attack, but the fact of the matter is that the main person behind this attack, Azhar is still out of our radar.
Azhar figures in all the dossiers that India has sent to Pakistan. His release during the hostage swap of December 31 1999 proved to be a costly affair. Not only did he get back to Pakistan and come back very strong with his new outfit, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, but he also was involved in planning the Parliament attack.
Although today his area of operation has been restricted to Kashmir alone, the man is very ambitious and had sworn to take over Ayodhya, Amritsar and also New Delhi. He has made it very clear that violence would be the only way to win over Kashmir and to attain this goal he would go to any length.
Although the ISI has contained him to the Valley alone, it is still a worrying factor that the man is out on the lose. His outfit undertakes only fidayeen strikes and they seem to have one of the best in the business.
According to the Indian Intelligence Azhar has been toying with the idea of joining the battle at Afghanistan, but the ISI has ensured that he continue to fight the Kashmir battle. He is an inspirational figure to his cadres in his own right and as long as he lives it only means India has a head ache on hand.

Geelani on life after the Parliament attack

Prof SAR Geelani. Photo credit: IBNLive

Ten years have passed since the Indian Parliament was attacked. The case has been discussed debated and there are several answered and unanswered questions regarding this case. One would clearly also remember the case of Professor Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani who was first booked, convicted and later acquitted by the Supreme Court of India. He spent 20 months in jail and was a victim of POTA before the Supreme Court acquitted him.
Professor Geelani has gone about his life after this nightmare which he faced. However life has changed a full cycle for him. In this interview with, Professor Geelani speaks about a range of issues concerning this attack and adds that today he is a known face in the country and the reasons for this is just not right.

How has life changed after this incident?

Life has become very difficult after the incident. I was a common man who could roam around everywhere. Today I feel restricted and I am constantly watched. Despite my name being cleared, I am identified each time this subject comes up. This image has been fixed in the minds of the people and I have to live with it everyday.

Why do you think this is the case?

Unfortunately in this country, if someone is accused things are blown out to such a proportion that it becomes difficult for normalcy to return in that persons life. Even an acquittal would not do and the media continues to show that person as an accused each time the incident is spoken about. Worse when the person is acquitted the media does not show enough to ensure that the person’s name is cleared. The acquittal comes after several years and the people too are not told what the real truth is. Hence the earlier image sticks in their mind and this is applicable in my case as well.

How did you cope with the situation?

It was not easy at all. I was branded as the master mind of the Parliament attack. I had various questions to answer and the burden of several charges on my head. I would really thank my family and friends who stood by me as they knew I was innocent. I would specially thank Ram Jethmalani for all the help he gave me in this case. All these persons put a lot at stake while supporting me. They have lost out a lot but they never gave up on me.

Why do you think you were charged in the first place?

After the incident, the police were groping in the dark. They had to show results but did not know who the real culprit was. They were desperate to link this attack with Kashmir and needed some faces desperately. Hence they projected me as the mastermind. I was a known face in Delhi, I was a human rights defender and had organized many meetings regarding Kashmir. Moreover I was well placed in the Delhi university. They found me to an easy target and hence made me the mastermind in this attack.

What do you make out of the case that was built up after this attack.

This attack was an embarrassment. However looking at the investigation, I would say nothing is clear. The essence of democracy is missing and the people are not asking any questions. Till date no one really knows who was behind this attack. We have prepared white papers, raised questions and even questioned the government. But they do not have the answers. No body knows who really attacked Parliament. It is said that those persons who were killed were Pakistanis. The court says these were Pakistanis as no one has claimed their bodies. There are many such photographs of people in the police stations whose bodies have not been claimed. Can you just jump to a conclusion on the basis of that?

Are you saying there was an inner hand?

No harm in exploring it. India had already stationed heavy troops accros the border giving the impression that the country would go to war. The kind of situation that was created gave the impression that something was known much in advance.

Now over to the Afzal Guru case. What are your thoughts?

Go through the judgment on Afzal Guru and you will realize that there has been miscarriage of justice. For him the case started off itself on a very bad note. He could not afford a good lawyer and he had written to the court about the same. However a junior lawyer was appointed and despite him protesting, he never got proper legal help. Afzal had said that he felt that the lawyer being given to him was biased. The court however said that this lawyer would only assist the court. Afzal was finally handed out a death sentence on the basis of his so called confessional statement. Signatures from him were obtained by force and the police wrote what they wanted. Even the judgment says that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence. It is also said that he had identified the bodies of the slain terrorists. He protested that this was untrue and the confession was forced. The court then told him that he could cross examine the witnesses. Do you think that someone like Afzal with no expertise what so ever can conduct a cross examination in a case of such high profile nature?

So, you feel that Kashmir will burn if he is hanged?

It surely will and peace will be derailed. The people of Kashmir know that injustice has been meted out to him. Hence hanging him would create a big problem.

Terrorism has not stopped for sure. Do you abolishing hard laws is the reason.

No that is not the reason. In a democratic system these laws have no place. We never addressed the root cause of the problem of terrorism. The investigation agencies have never probed these cases seriously. They always do a hotch potch job. Look at Mecca Masjid, Samjautha among others. The police have always dealt with these cases with a closed mind and hence the problem is never solved. Moreover laws such as POTA and TADA have never been the answer to the problem. We had such laws and look at the way in which it was misused.
Moreover, the manner in which cases are investigated too have to be given a second look. The manner in which blasts are taking place and the investigation is being conducted, only makes me think that there is something fishy.

What about 26/11?

I have condemned the attack and the people who carried it out have no place in society. However this cannot be a justification for police to pick up innocents in every cases that occurs in our country.

Is there a solution to Kashmir?

There has to be a solution to the Kashmir problem. If they maintain status quo as they would prefer to then the people will continue to suffer.Unfortunately in the Kashmir issue, the government has lied to the people and kept them in the dark. They don’t allow others also to tell them the truth. Status quo is not the solution. Look at the kind of money that is being spent on this issue. Is it worth it?

Which according to you is a better government-The UPA or the NDA

Both according to me have failed in addressing the problems. It is not about change of guard at the centre. Change in policies need to take place and in the case of both these governments, the policies have remained the same. Look at the manner in which the IB is functioning. I have faced the IB and they have been communal in nature.

Krishna plea on Tuesday

The Karnataka High Court will hear the petition filed by Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna challenging the proceedings against him in the illegal mining case. The matter is expected to be come up in the morning session and will be heard by Justice B V Pinto, the same judge who heard the bail plea filed by B S Yeddyurappa.
The Lokayukta court while hearing a private complaint had ordered a probe against Krishna and two other former Chief Ministers of Karnataka. The complaint had alleged that Krishna during his tenure as CM had used his office and shown favour to some companies as a result of whic huge losses had been caused to the exchequer of the state due to illegal mining.
Following this the Lokayukta police filed a First Information Report against Krishna and others. The police were also directed to file a report on the probe by January 6th. Following this there was chaos in the Rajya Sabha seeking the ouster of Krishna. Krishna then moved the High Court against these proceedings.

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Guv vs Yeddy

The Governor of Karnataka H R Bharadwaj took a shot at former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and said that he cannot appoint a Lokayukta who would help the accused.
The post of the much acclaimed Lokayukta has remained vacant ever since Justice Shivraj Patil resigned to the post barely a month after he took over. Yeddyurappa had suggested the name of Justice S R Bannur Math and the same was seconded by Chief Minister D B Sadananda Gowda. However the Governor had rejected the appointment on the ground that there were some allegations against him. However the Karnataka government has remained adamant and said that they wanted only Justice Bannur Math as the Lokayukta.
The Governor today stated to the media in Bangalore that, he would not appoint a person who will help the accused. Moreoever how can an accused person (Yeddyurappa) suggest the name of the new Lokayukta, he also added thus contuing the stalemate of the appointment of a new Lokayukta.

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In Bhatkal, Yaseen is a dead man

Today the police would do anything to lay their hands on a man by the Yaseen Bhatkal. He is the prime accused in the German Bakery blasts and is also accused ot regrouping the Indian Mujahideen after which the country witnessed a series of blasts.

He hails from the coastal town of Bhatkal in Karnataka and strangely enough the people in his town ask, why the police are chasing a dead man.

In Bhatkal when you ask for Yaseen Bhatkal, they draw a blank. His uncle Mohammad Ali says that there is no one called Yaseen Bhatkal. The rest of the people too have the same thing to say about him.

Ask the police in Bhatkal and they say the real name is Ahmed Siddibappa and Yaseen could be one of the aliases that has been used by him. The last time that they saw or even heard of this man called Ahmed was 8 years back. They say he left to Dubai and worked along with his father Zarrar Sidibappa over there. However there was one mysterious fight that took place between the father and the son seven years back and they never saw each other after that. His father too on being asked about the whereabouts of his son says that he and I had a falling out after which we have never met.

No one in his home town denies him having any links with terror groups. However they refuse to connect him to the Indian Mujahideen. He went and joined the Taliban they say. In Dubai he got involved with a couple of elements who coaxed him to join the Taliban in Afghanistan after which he left for that country. Five years back we heard that he died over there. His family members however do not confirm this fact and only say that they have not seen him in a long time.

While Ahmed alias Yaseen was in Bhatkal he lived at No.938, S M Zarrar Manzil, Jail Road

Maqdoom colony. He showed no signs of extremist behaviour and was pretty normal with the rest of the people in his area. Moreover the other issue about him being related to Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal appears to be false. They may be knowing each other, but they are in no way related to each other, the people of Bhatkal say. Even the police confirm that there is no relation between these two families. However they do not deny the fact that they could have met at a later stage and could be working for the same outfit.  While Yaseen lived at the Maqdoom colony, the Bhatkal brothers resided at the Madeena colony which are far away from each other. There was no trace of them being in touch with each other while in Bhatkal, the police also point out. The meeting could have probably taken place in Dubai through common sources, the police point out.

His Afghanistan stint according to the police could well be a cover up job to throw the intelligence agencies out of gear. They say that there is no doubt that he is part of the Indian Mujahideen and he was the man who planted the bomb at the German Bakery in Pune. His role in the IM is a pretty large one and probing him would mean eliciting a mine of information on the outfit.

The Delhi police in particular has managed a lot of information on Yaseen and they even go on to say that he was very much present in Delhi when the Batla house encounter took place. He never left the country and operated in India all through. He was assigned the job of regrouping the Indian Mujahideen which he did to a large extent, the Delhi police also claimed when they bust the IM module a couple of days back. Yaseen was closely associated with both the Delhi, Karnakata, Maharashtra and Bihar modules and he had even thought of setting up a strong cell of the IM in coastal Karnataka, the police also added.

Also Read: My sons were branded SIMI members

After the 2003 blasts….

Today justice may be delivered for the families of 52 persons who lost their lives at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar. The Bombay High Court will deliver its verdict on the death sentence handed out by the trial court to Ashrat Ansari,  Hanif Sayed Anees and wife Fehmida Sayed. These persons were chargesheeted for planting powerful bombs at the above mentioned two places on August 25 2003 in which 52 persons lost their lives.

Investigators who have handled this case say that this was just the beginning of things to come and the city became extremely vulnerable to terror strikes as the accused showed the ease with which they went about their task. The conspiracy was hatched in Dubai and executed to perfection by a family who subscribed to the views of the deadly Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

Post 2003 terror groups only enhanced operations all across Maharashtra. They did realise that attacking the financial capital of India caused a great deal of destruction and have targeted the city on very many occasions after that.

Today the police may deny the presence of strong modules of these terror groups in the city. However what the police failed to see was the emergence of the Indian Mujahideen after this attack. Indian Intelligence Bureau officials say that the Lashkar with the 2003 attacks had used their resources locally in India and this became a trend after that. Post 1993, the police had started to believe that all terror operations in India were executed from across the border. While this is true to a large extent, post 2003 one witnessed the real birth of Islamic Home grown Jihad.

The likes of Azaam Cheema, Riyaz Bhatkal among others emerged after this attack. The ISI did realise that post 1993 and 2003 there was growing heat on Dawood Ibhraim and hence it was very important to shield him and ensure that there were attacks planned and executed from the Indian soil itself. The ISI also wanted to ensure that presence of Pakistani men in such attacks was minimised a great deal.

Post 2003, Azaam Cheema was a natural choice for all future attacks. He was familiar with the terrain in Maharashtra. Operating out of Dubai initially, Cheema rallied forces post 2003 as a result of which the 2006 train blasts became a reality for the Lashkar. However the more important factor was the birth of home grown jihad.

Riyaz Bhatkal in particular played a crucial role in building up the Maharashtra module for the Indian Mujahideen post 2003. The Indian Mujahideen became a reality thanks to the support that the Bhatkal brothers managed to dish up post 2003. He managed to pick up a lot of youth as there was a lot of outrage against the police when the investigations into the 2003 blasts commenced. In barely a couple of hours 360 persons were rounded up only to be released later. There were many innocents too who were rounded up and this automatically caused a lot of outrage among the Muslim community.
Riyaz Bhatkal who operated out of Kurla floated two outfits at around that time. He called the Fazl-ur-Rehman gang and later the Aryan Gang. To the outside world it looked like an ordinary gang, but he went about carrying out recruitments and also raised funds for terror operations. When the police started to dig deeper into the activities of Riyaz Bhatkal they first thought he was involved in the 2003 blasts as well. However the later part of the investigations revealed that he had nothing to do with it and they let him off the scanner. Three years later the horrific train blasts took place and this time the police realised that he had started to provide logistic support through his gangs to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. His brief was clear and that was to keep building up a force within India and recruit as many youth as possible so that the next round of attacks are launched from the home soil itself. Even during the train blasts of 2006, the role played by Bhatkal was very limited. His gang just helped with the logistics, but the bigger part was played by the likes of Azam Cheema who currently is housed in Bhawalpur in Pakistan.

Council poll-Will Sriramulu play spoil sport?

Will Sriramulu be able to give Sadananda Gowda who files his nomination today a run for his money on December 22nd? The Karnataka Chief Minister, Sadananda Gowda who will face an election in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on December 22nd will be up against the Congress-Janatha Dal (S) and Sriramulu all combined who are plotting his defeat.

Sadananda Gowda who became the Chief Minister with the blessings of B S Yeddyurappa is a member of Parliament. However he will now have to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Council in order to continue as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

There is hectic back door plotting on to ensure that he is defeated in the council polls. He would need 113 votes in order to win the election. If the Bharatiya Janata Party with 120 MLAs remain united then there is no problem for Gowda. The Janata Dal (S) has decided to support the Congress candidate G Anand and they have got support from Sriramulu who quit the BJP to float his own BSR Party.

For Gowda, the problem is not from the Congress and the JD(S) as they would not be able to defeat him despite their joint effort as they lack the numbers. The problem is from Sriramulu who has been claiming the support of over 20 BJP MLAs who are ready to cross over whenever he asks them to. Sriramulu would need to tell just ten MLAs from the BJP to cross vote in order to defeat Gowda. The big question however is whether he will be able to get these ten MLAs to vote against Gowda.

Sriramulu has however said in public that he has no intention of creating any rift within the BJP. I am not going to pressurise anyone to vote against Gowda. I have no intention of telling anyone to violate the rules and regulations in the House and it is entirely up to all the MLAs who they want to vote for.

The Congress and the JD(S) are however hoping that Sriramulu could work his magic and get at least 10 MLAs out of the BJP for this election. However the reality is that there are just 3 MLAs at the moment who will stand by Sriramulu and that is no secret as these three MLAs had openly identified with him during the recently concluded Bellary by-election.

The BJP appears to be very confident and says that no one would stab them in the back as the consequences could be bad as they stand to lose their membership. Moreover identifying with Sriramulu means identifying with the Reddy brothers and at this point in time it is nothing but suicidal thanks to the number of cases against them. However the BJP is not taking matters lying down. The next ten days are extremely crucial as the opposition is plotting hard. Although the BJP may say that Sriramulu have just three loyalists, they are worried about the five independent candidates who could swing any way. These 5 MLAs have caused enough and more problems for the BJP in the past and could well pose a threat this time as well. If Sriramulu manages to get these five MLAs and also gets his three hardcore loyalists to vote against the BJP that means Gowda would have 112 votes and fall short by one vote. This would be extremely close and in case this were to happen then the BJP would have to find a new Chief Minister.

There is also talk that some in the Yeddyurappa faction may want a shake up on December 22nd and in case this happens it would mean that the BJP would have Yeddyurappa back in the hot seat. However some in the BJP say that this is loud thinking and the existing situation would continue with no problem at all. No one within the BJP wants any problem as of now and they are more interested in retaining their memberships and completing the remainder of their term with no shake ups.