With time ticking away for the trust-vote on Thursday, a desperate Karnataka Congress on Tuesday blamed the opposition BJP for its rebel MLAs’ lockdown in Mumbai.
“We are unable to contact 11 of our 13 rebel legislators as they are in complete lockdown in a Mumbai hotel. Their mobile phones have been taken away. They can’t step outside the hotel and they are under house arrest,” tweeted Congress state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao.
Of the 16 rebel legislators, including 13 of the Congress and three of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) who resigned from their Assembly segments, 13 have been holed up in a five-star hotel in Mumbai since the political crisis unfolded on July 6.
Of the 13, 10 are from the Congress and three of JD-S.
Two more Congress rebel lawmakers – K. Sudhakar and M.T.B. Nagaraj joined the other rebels on July 14.
The remaining two Congress rebel legislators R. Ramalinga Reddy and R. Roshan Baig are, however, in Bengaluru.
Incidentally, Baig was prevented from leaving the city on Monday night and detained at the airport when he was about to board a private chartered aircraft to Pune by the police in connection with his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Ponzi scheme, floated by its prime accused Mansoor Ali Khan.
Two independents, who resigned as ministers and withdrew support to the 13-month-old shaky Congress-JD-S coalition government, are also staying with the ruling party rebel legislators since a week.
“Our rebel @INCIndia MLAs are in the clutches of @BJP4India and are sure to be disqualified. They will be waiting in queue for B-forms to get BJP ticket,” said a miffed Rao in another tweet.
Accusing the BJP of engineering defections by forcing most of the rebel legislators to resign so as to reduce the ruling combine’s strength in the state Assembly, Rao said the opposition party has been desperately wooing them with money and positions of power to topple the coalition government.
“The BJP’s role in triggering the political crisis in the state is evident and proves our charge that the resignation of the rebel MLAs is neither voluntary nor genuine,” said Rao in the tweet.
The 10 rebel Congress MLAs staying in the hotel are Pratapgouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B.C. Patil, S.T. Somashekhar, Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, Munirathna, K. Sudhakar and M.T.B. Nagaraj.
The three JD-S rebel legislators staying in the same hotel are K. Gopalaiah, A.H. Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.
The two independents also with the rebels are R. Shankar and H. Nagesh.
Except Reddy, all the 12 Congress and three JD-S rebels petitioned the Supreme Court to direct Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to accept their resignations forthwith, as 10 of them re-submitted them in his office here on July 11 as advised by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on July 10.
Echoing Rao’s tirade against the BJP, party’s spokesman M.N. Suraj Hegde told reporters here that about 60 of the party MLAs have been shifted on Tuesday to Windflower Prakruthi resort at Devanahalli on the city’s northern outskirts.
“With 13 rebels resigning, our effective strength in the Assembly is 65, excluding the Speaker. We are keeping them together at one place to ensure the BJP will not wean away or poach them though its leader B.S. Yeddyurappa claimed 3-4 more Congress MLAs will resign ahead of the trust-vote on Thursday,” said Hegde.
With the strength of the JD-S also reduced to 34 from 37, the ruling combine has 101, including the Speaker and one of the Bahuja Samaj Party (BSP) against 107 of the BJP, with the support of the two independents.
If the 16 rebel legislators stay away from the Assembly for the trust-vote on Thursday, the strength of the 225-member House, including one nominated without voting rights, will be reduced to 209, with 105 as the new halfway mark for a simple majority.
“As my resignation has not been accepted so far, I will attend the session on Thursday in compliance with the whip issued to all the party legislators, including all those who resigned,” said Reddy.