A STEADY stream of Congress and BJP leaders, and protests by Congress workers, ensured that the spotlight remained throughout Sunday on the Sofitel Hotel in Bandra here where at least 10 rebel legislators from Karnataka have been put up.
Late in the evening, the 10 MLAs emerged to say that they would not withdraw their resignations or attend the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party meeting scheduled Tuesday. “We, 13 MLAs, have resigned and 10 are here. We are all together. There is no question of taking back the resignations or attending the Legislature Party meeting,” said rebel Congress MLA S T Somashekar, surrounded by nine of his colleagues.
Until then, most of the MLAs had remained inside the hotel premises. Among the political leaders spotted at the hotel were Maharashtra BJP MLA Prasad Lad and the party’s city youth wing president Mohit Bhartiya.
Lad, however, claimed that he had “gone to the hotel for a hair cut”. “I have been busy with the party’s membership drive,” Lad told The Indian Express.
The rebel MLAs “will be here till the Congress and JD(S) take a call on the Karnataka government”, said a BJP leader, who claimed that 14 legislators — 10 Congress and 4 JD(S) — are currently in the hotel.
Earlier, speaking to reporters after visiting the hotel, Karnataka Congress leader Mahendra Singhi said: “I met Congress legislator Ramesh Jarkiholi. It (the political crisis) is a family matter and we will resolve it. The crisis is like the rainy season that comes and goes.”
Later, some Congress workers staged a protest against the BJP outside the hotel. In the evening, multiple groups of Congress workers and leaders, including former MP Eknath Gaikwad and legislators Bhai Jagtap and Naseem Khan, joined the protest.
Police subsequently detained the Congress workers. “There was pressure on the legislators to resign. A lot of money was involved in it. Had they given the resignations on their own, they wouldn’t have to come to Mumbai,” claimed Gaikwad.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan accused the BJP of attempting to topple the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka and misusing official machinery in party-ruled states for “murdering” democracy.
“Congress MLAs have been brought to Mumbai in private jets and detained in a five-star hotel by the BJP. The country’s richest political party is misusing its power and using its money power to pressurise these MLAs,” Chavan tweeted.