MUMBAI, Jul 10: A senior Karnataka minister was
detained and sent packing back to Bengaluru as the political crisis in the southern state continued to be played out in India’s financial capital Wednesday.
D K Shivakumar, Karnataka’s Water Resources Minister and the Congress’ troubleshooter, landed here early Wednesday and drove to the luxury hotel where rebel MLAs from his state are stationed.
Police prevented him from entering the hotel and his
plea that he had booked a room in the hotel failed to elicit any response from police officials.
Congress leader Milind Deora, who was also detained along with Shivakumar, claimed Mumbai police were “forcibly deporting” the minister to Bengaluru. Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap said Shivakumar was taken to Mumbai airport by Mumbai police.
Shivakumar, who came to Mumbai to meet rebel Congress MLAs from Karnataka, was detained along with Deora and former Maharashtra minister Naseem Khan. They were taken to a guest house in Kalina and released after a while.
Shivakumar had been camping outside the Renaissance Hotel in Powai since morning, determined to meet the rebel MPs in a desperate bid to pull the Congress-JD(S) government from the brink of collapse.
Security personnel, camera crews, media personnel and political workers jostled with each other outside the luxury hotel that has become the centrepiece of the crisis in Karnataka.
Slogans of “Shivakumar go back” were raised and some people clambered on to the high gates of the hotel on the outskirts of the city.
Shivakumar was being interviewed by a TV channel when he was almost pulled away by Mumbai Police and put in a van.
Deora and Khan who had come to meet him were also detained.
Shivakumar had reached the hotel at 8.20 am but was stopped by police from entering. His plea that he had a valid reservation in the hotel fell on deaf ears.
Police officials told Shivakumar that the rebel MLAs
had written to the Mumbai police chief claiming they feared a threat to their lives due to his arrival.
But Shivakumar, who was accompanied by senior JD(S) MLAs stood his ground, saying that politics is an art of the possible and he would not leave without meeting friends.
He told reporters he had “come in peace” and had no
intention of threatening the rebel MLAs. He added that he was unarmed and just wanted to have coffee with his friends.
“I haven’t brought any security force or weapon, I
only have my heart with me. I want to meet my friends and have coffee with them. If the BJP is not involved then why are we not being allowed to enter the hotel,” he said.
As the showdown intensified, an e-mail from the hotel to the travel agency which had booked a room on Shivakumar’s behalf revealed that the reservation was cancelled due to “some emergency” in the hotel.
Ten of the 12 MLAs in the hotel wrote to Mumbai police chief, saying they feared a threat to their lives and
Shivakumar should be prevented from entering the hotel.
Police imposed prohibitory orders in the vicinity of
the hotel. The stretch leading to the hotel was lined with
security personnel and security had been stepped up since morning.
After standing for several hours with supporters
holding aloft umbrellas, Shivakumar sat precariously on the hotel boundary wall with his feet dangling over a storm water drainage opening.
“Mumbai has a good government. Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) is my good friend. I have booked a room here. My friends are here, some disputes are there, they are my friends….” he said.
Shivakumar noted that he had earlier played “host” to 120 MLAs from Maharashtra when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister.
Twelve MLAs — seven of the Congress, three of the
JD(S) and two Independents — are in the city since Saturday after resigning from the Karnataka Assembly and withdrawing support to the coalition government.
The political crisis in Karnataka also reached the
Supreme Court with 10 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs moving a plea, claiming the Assembly Speaker has been deliberately not accepting their resignations.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took
note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, and assured him that it will see whether their petition can be listed for an urgent hearing on Thursday.
Of the 14 MLAs who have resigned, 11 are from Congress and three from JD(S). The ruling coalition faces the threat of losing its majority if the resignations of the rebel MLAs are accepted.
The coalition’s total strength is 116 (Congress-78,
JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker. The Monsoon session of the Karnataka legislature would begin from July 12.
The BJP in Karnataka demonstrated outside the Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday to demand that Kumaraswamy step down from office, claiming his government has lost majority after 14 MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance submitted their resignations. (PTI)