A three-time BJP MLA from Bengaluru, who recently lost out on a ministerial berth in the B S Yediyurappa-led cabinet and the post of the Karnataka BJP chief last year, has emerged as the central figure in the BJP’s efforts to safeguard a group of 19 Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh in a bid to topple the Kamal Nath government.
Arvind Limbavali (53), MLA from Mahadevapura and a general secretary in state BJP, has played a key role in looking after the interests of the Congress MLAs who were moved to Bengaluru on Monday on chartered flights, sources associated with the MLA said.
The BJP leader from a Scheduled Caste, who enjoys the confidence of Home Minister Amit Shah, was called to Delhi around 20 days ago and briefed about the possibility of sheltering rebel Congress MLAs, the sources said. “He has played a central part in keeping the MLAs in Bengaluru,’’ a source said.
The three MLAs who reached Bengaluru in the first week of March were housed at a gated community in Limbavali’s constituency in east Bengaluru. The premises, it is learnt, belongs to a builder also closely associated with the family of Chief Minister B S Yediyuarappa. A second batch of 19 MLAs who arrived on Monday were housed at Prestige Golfshire resort near Bengaluru airport. BJP leaders in Karnataka have maintained silence on these developments. Limbavali has shared information only with Chief Minister Yediyurappa, sources said.
A protege of the BJP leader late H N Ananth Kumar, Limbavali was widely tipped to be the state party chief last year on account of the rapport he enjoyed with BJP central leaders like then party chief Shah and Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekhar.
However, he lost out on the post, apparently due to the emergence of a video depicting a homosexual act — the video was later found to be fake in forensic analysis. Limbavali had alleged that his rivals were behind the fake video.
The row over the video is also believed to have cost the former state minister a position in the cabinet.
Limbavali had played a key role in organising defections of 17 Congress and JDS MLAs which eventually helped the BJP get a majority and form the government, but did not find a place in the cabinet.
Last month, when Yediyurappa expanded the BJP cabinet following the victory of defectors from the Congress and JD(S) in bypolls, Limbavali’s name had featured among the two senior BJP leaders likely to be inducted into the cabinet along with 11 rebels. The names of senior BJP leaders Umesh Katti and Limbavali were, however, dropped in the final list.
Ahead of the bypolls, Limbavali had asserted that he was the party leader in-charge for the elections. “I will be the person in charge of the polls and there will be 15 persons in charge of each constituency,’’ he had said.
Aides of Limbavali said that by helping the BJP regain power in MP, the MLA is looking at a ministerial berth in a state cabinet expansion speculated to take place next month.
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