Updated: July 12, 2019 12:40:37 pm
From interference in work to resentment over denial of minister seat, the rebel Cong and JDS MLAs have their own reasons. Johnson T A takes a look at the legislators who have put the state government on edge
R Ramalinga Reddy, 66
Congress, BTM Layout, Bengaluru
A seven-time MLA, Reddy has been a minister in every Congress government in the state since the 1990s. He has been sulking ever since he was overlooked for a minister’s post in the Congress-JDS government despite having served as a home minister in the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government. Reddy has blamed Siddaramaiah for keeping him out to please his own loyalists. Hailing from the Telugu-speaking Reddy community, he does not have a deep caste base in Karnataka to achieve the status of a mass leader. He is, however, a dominant figure in Bengaluru politics and is known to enjoy the support of hundreds of civil contractors in the city on account of being a former councillor.
He is known to wield control over various kinds of city contracts, from garbage to construction. After being kept out of the ministry, Reddy has also been upset over the gradual loss of political ground in Bengaluru to new entrants like Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and the chief minister’s brother H D Revanna through diversion of contracts to their coteries. Reddy declared wealth to the tune of Rs 35 crore in 2013 and to the tune of Rs 66 crore in 2018.
He is tipped to be a deputy chief minister in the event of the coalition surviving this crisis. In the 2018 polls, Reddy’s daughter Soumya Reddy was fielded from Jayanagar constituency he earlier held and the Congress reportedly denied him a ministerial berth since his daughter had been fielded in the polls. Reddy is not part of the group of 10 MLAs holed up in Mumbai and is expected to return to the coalition if it survives.
H Vishwanath, 69
Jds, Hunsur, Mysuru
A four-time MLA and a former MP, Vishwanath belongs to the backward class Kuruba community. He was the state president of the JDS till a few days before his move to resign from the Assembly. Vishwanath earlier resigned as state party president, citing the party’s defeat in Lok Sabha polls, the failure of the coalition and the Congress’s “indifference”. He has been engaged in a tussle with fellow Kuruba leader Siddaramaiah ever since he helped the latter join the Congress around 12 years ago. Soon, Siddaramaiah assumed the mantle of the foremost leader of the Kuruba community and Vishwanath was sidelined.
He joined the JDS in 2017 and was elected to the Assembly in 2018. In recent months, Vishwanath had grown disgruntled with the Vokkaliga-dominated section of the JDS over the way he was ignored in decision-making even in his own constituency. Vishwanath was seen with senior BJP leaders in Karnataka and Delhi ahead of his resignation. Although he was expected to quit, the veteran was not expected to be part of a group trying to topple the government. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Vishwanath, who is also a writer, declared wealth to the tune of Rs 3 crore. Ahead of the 2018 state polls, he declared the same amount of wealth. He is one of three JDS MLAs parked in hotels in Mumbai along with seven Congress MLAs.
R Roshan Baig, 65
Congress, Shivajinagar, Bengaluru
The eight-time MLA has been a minister on six occasions. He has served as home minister in the past and was the minister for urban development in the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government. Baig has been upset after being denied a position in the coalition ministry and has blamed Siddaramaiah for this.
He was suspended by the Congress after the Lok Sabha polls for blaming Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, for the party’s defeat. Baig was tipped to join the BJP when he was linked to the multi-crore ponzi scheme scam propagated by the IMA Group and its founder Mansoor Khan. In a video message before he fled the country, Khan alleged that he suffered losses because Baig borrowed over Rs 400 crore and did not return it. An SIT probing the matter has called Baig for questioning on July 11. The Congress leader had declared wealth to the tune of Rs 19 crore in 2013 and Rs 36 crore in 2018. Baig is not among the MLAs in Mumbai. He is overseeing Haj arrangements in Bengaluru after being appointed state head of the Haj Committee by the Union Ministry for Minority Affairs.
Ramesh Jharkiholi, 59
Congress, Gokak, Belagavi
The four-time MLA is one of the four Jharkiholi brothers who have exercised political control over a large part of Belagavi region over the past 15 to 20 years. Hailing from the ST Valmiki Nayak community, Ramesh and his brothers own sugar factories and other businesses in Belagavi worth hundreds of crores. One of the Jharkiholi brothers has inevitably featured in every government in the state over the past decade. One of the four, Satish, is a minister in the current Congress-JDS coalition. Ramesh and Satish are considered to be firm followers of Siddaramaiah with whom they have been associated since his Janata Dal days.
Ramesh was a minister in the Siddaramaiah government and was made a minister in the coalition government as well for a few months before he was dropped for raising a mutiny and leading a group of rebels. Last year, he was involved in a bitter dispute with Congress leader D K Shivakumar over the latter’s attempts to gain control over the Belagavi region in association with Lakshmi Hebbalkar, an MLA and former associate of Ramesh. The Congress leader from Belagavi has been associated with five rebellions in the last year against the coalition and has been identified as a leader of a group of seven to eight rebels. He travelled to Mumbai with six other MLAs soon after resigning on July 6. Ramesh declared wealth of Rs 57 crore in 2013 and Rs 122 crore in 2018.
Anand Singh, 53
Congress, Vijaynagara, Ballari
A three-time MLA from Ballari region, Singh hopped from the BJP to the Congress ahead of the 2018 assembly elections. A Rajput and a businessman with interests in iron ore mining, he was arrested by the CBI in 2013 for alleged involvement in an illegal mining racket allegedly operated by former BJP minister G Janardhan Reddy. He is still under trial.
Despite lacking a caste base in Ballari, Singh has won elections through popularity gained through philanthropic work.
He was associated with a rebel group in the Congress on several occasions and was involved in a brawl with a fellow rebel from Ballari at a resort near Bengaluru last year after he was allegedly accused of leaking information about the rebels to some Congress leaders. He was the first MLA to resign in the ongoing rebellion. Singh has cited a decision by the Congress-JDS government to hand over 3,667 acres at a cheap price to steel major JSW Steel Ltd in Ballari as the trigger for his decision to quit the assembly. Singh declared a wealth of Rs 104 crore in 2013 and Rs 117 crore in 2018. Singh did not travel to Mumbai with seven other Congress MLAs.
S T Somashekhar, 61
Congress, Yeshwanthpura, Bengaluru
The two-term MLA is from the dominant Vokkaliga community in south Karnataka and a follower of Siddaramaiah. He has nursed ambitions of becoming a minister since 2013 when Siddaramaiah was chief minister. He was made chairman of the Bangalore Development Authority through his intervention. Somashekhar, who has interests in real estate, construction, civil contracts and travel business, is a close associate of two other Congress MLAs from north Bangalore — Byrathi Basavaraj and N Munirathna — who are among the seven Congress MLAs holed up in Mumbai.
Somashekhar on Wednesday refused to meet Shivakumar. He and his two associates were expected to be among those the coalition will particularly reach out to. This is because they have been associated with the rebels for the first time and due to their personal ambitions. Somashekhar declared wealth to the tune of Rs 7 crore in 2013 and Rs 14 crore in 2018.
Byrathi Basavaraj, 54
Congress, K R Pura, Bengaluru
A close associate of Siddaramaiah, the Congress MLA is a wealthy landholder from north Bengaluru involved in real estate business. Basavaraj and his brother Byrathi Suresh, also a Congress MLA, are considered to be key financial backers of Siddaramaiah. The brothers belong to the OBC Kuruba community to which Siddaramaiah belongs. They have a reputation of controlling a lot of land deals in north Bangalore.
The presence of Basavaraj in the group of rebels who resigned on July 6 was a major surprise for political observers and suggested a possible tacit role of their political benefactor in the rebellion.
The main grouse of Basavaraj and three other north Bangalore MLAs against the coalition government is the alleged interference of JDS leaders in the affairs in their constituencies. The two-term MLA declared a wealth of Rs 46 crore in 2013 and Rs 90 crore in 2018.
N Munirathna, 55
Congress, RR Nagar, Bengaluru
Munirathna is a former contractor-turned-councillor-turned-legislator. The two-time MLA is now also a film producer. He has links with contractors in Bengaluru city who control various city projects and is closely associated with Congress leaders like Ramalinga Reddy and Shivakumar. He is also associated with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and was the producer of a recent film featuring the chief minister’s actor son Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
The 2018 election to RR Nagar constituency was postponed after an aide of Munirathna was accused of involvement in illegal practices. In 2014, Munirathna was linked to a fake bills scam in the city corporation. He managed to avoid an arrest by Karnataka Lokayukta due to political connections. Munirathna has cited Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara’s “failure” to protect interests of Congress MLAs as a reason behind his quitting as a legislator. He declared wealth of Rs 28 crore in 2013 and Rs 43 crore in 2018.
B C Patil, 62
Congress, Hirekerur, Haveri
A three-time MLA, Patil is a former police sub-inspector-turned-actor-turned politician. A member of the dominant Lingayat community, Patil has been trying to become a minister for long. After the 2018 assembly polls, he recorded negotiations conducted by BJP leaders to lure him to the BJP and provided it to Congress leaders to prove charges of poaching.
Patil has been linked to Congress rebels in the past. He is among the seven Congress MLAs in Mumbai, but is seen as likely to return if he is guaranteed a ministerial post and the survival of the government. He declared wealth of Rs 5 crore in 2013 and 2018.
Prathapgouda Patil, 64
Congress, Maski, Raichur
A former BJP MLA who was also associated with B S Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Party, the three-time MLA is from the dominant Lingayat community and an aspirant to a ministerial position. He has been one of the Congress MLAs constantly wooed by the BJP since the 2018 polls threw up a hung verdict.
An agriculturist, he is among the Congress MLAs in Mumbai. He declared wealth to the tune of Rs 94 lakh in 2008 and Rs 4 crore in 2018.
Shivaram Hebbar, 62
Congress, Yellapur, Uttara Kannada
The areca nut farmer was among the Congress MLAs wooed by the BJP soon after the 2018 polls. The Congress released an audio tape where BJP leaders were purportedly speaking to members of Hebbar’s family and offering funds and positions if the MLA votes for the BJP in a trust vote.
The two-term MLA has rejected the recordings as fake. He is known to be aspiring to a ministerial post. In 2013, he declared wealth to the tune of Rs 9 crore and in 2018, he declared wealth to the tune of Rs 6 crore.
Mahesh Kumatahalli, 57
Congress, Athani, Belagavi
A close associate of Congress leader Ramesh Jharkiholi, the MLA from Belagavi region is known to follow Jharkiholi’s decisions. He has been associated with all five rebellions against the coalition government since September 2018.
He is a member of Lingayat community. Kumaraswamy and deputy CM Parameshwara spoke to Kumatahalli a few weeks ago to get him to convince Ramesh against leaving the coalition. The businessman declared wealth to the tune of Rs 9 crore in 2018.
Narayana Gowda, 56
JDS, Krishnarajpet, Hassan
The JD(S) MLA who is one of three party MLAs who resigned and went to Mumbai on July 6 has blamed interference by members of Kumaraswamy’s family in his constituency as the reason for his joining rebels.
He has alleged that a sister of the CM was controlling affairs in the constituency. Gowda, a businessman, belongs to Vokkaliga community. He declared wealth to the tune of Rs 9 crore in 2013 and Rs 11 crore in 2018.
K Gopalaiah, 58
JDS, Mahalakshmi Layout, Bengaluru
Another north Bengaluru MLA with connections to land deals and contracts in the city corporation, Gopalaiah is a two-term MLA. He was suspended by the JDS in 2017 after he cross-voted with a few JDS rebels during a Rajya Sabha election.
He was re-instated after he apologised. A former councillor in Bengaluru city corporation, Gopalaiah’s wife is a former deputy mayor. He declared wealth of Rs 7 crore in 2013 and Rs 10 crore in 2018.
M T B Nagaraj, 67
Congress, Hoskote, Bangalore Rural
Nagaraj is a wealthy landholder in real-estate businessman and one of the richest MLAs in Karnataka. A member of OBC Kuruba community, he is considered a close aide of Siddaramaiah. In the 2018 polls, he declared worth Rs 1,015 crore.
He had earlier threatened to rebel against the coalition last year and was inducted into the state cabinet in December 2018 at the instance of Siddaramaiah. Nagaraj has now accused Kumaraswamy and his brother Revanna of interference in administration.
K Sudhakar, 45
A social worker, Sudhakar is a second-term MLA who has been associated with a rebel group since January this year. He was made the chairman of the state pollution control board two weeks ago at the instance of Siddaramaiah to prevent him from joining dissidents. His appointment was earlier opposed by Kumaraswamy.
His resignation on Wednesday was marked by high drama with Congress leaders nabbing him as he attempted to leave a government building after submitting his resignation. The MLA who runs an NGO declared wealth of Rs 2 crore in 2013 and Rs 15 crore in 2018.
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