A Congress MLA in Karnataka, who was being sheltered in a resort outside Bengaluru with 74 other party MLAs following a dissidence scare, was hospitalised Sunday under suspicious circumstances, suggesting an ongoing power struggle within the state Congress.
Anand Singh, MLA from Vijayanagar in Bellary district, was hospitalised following an alleged brawl on Saturday night with another MLA from the same region, J N Ganesh.
Congress leader D K Shivakumar, currently minister in-charge of Bellary, and his brother and MP D K Suresh, who is sheltering the MLAs at the resort, denied reports of a brawl.
Former CM Siddaramaiah said he needed to verify whether a brawl had occurred, while Congress minister Zameer Ahmed Khan suggested that a “small fight may have occurred among friends’’.
“He admitted himself to hospital due to chest pain and is being treated. There are no injuries caused by a fight. Anand Singh did not talk of a fight or being hit. He is under observation and will be discharged in a day,’’ Lok Sabha MP Suresh said after visiting Singh. Shivakumar claimed Sunday morning that Singh left the resort to attend a wedding.
No police complaint regarding an assault has been filed by Singh or his family. Kampli MLA Ganesh was moved out of the resort Sunday, Congress sources said.
“@DKShivakumar says Anand Singh left to relatives wedding @DKSureshINC says Anand Singh had only chest pain @ArshadRizwan says Anand Singh slipped & got injuries @siddaramaiah & @dineshgrao has not yet visited their hospitalised MLA & they say all is well in Congress,’’ the official handle of Karnataka unit of BJP has tweeted.
A group of 75 of the 79 Congress MLAs who are a part of a ruling JDS-Congress coalition were moved to the resort last week after six Congress MLAs went incommunicado and two Independents withdrew support to the government.
Singh, who was formerly with the Bellary Reddy brothers group in the BJP, was initially reported by Shivakumar to be among Congress rebels the BJP was trying to poach.
Singh, however, reached Shivakumar’s residence a day later and the duo reported to Congress in-charge for Karnataka K C Venugopal where Singh reportedly informed the leadership that the rebellion was instigated by Congress leader from Belagavi Ramesh Jharkiholi, who is locked in an ego battle with Shivakumar.
The alleged brawl is learnt to be a consequence of Ganesh alleging that Singh “played a double game” while reporting the dissidence to the high command, sources said.
The dissidence basically involved six MLAs — Singh, Ganesh, Bheema Naik and B Nagendra from Bellary region and Jharkiholi and Mahesh Kamatahalli from Belagavi. Sources in Congress said it was a continuation of the ego clash between Shivakumar and Jharkiholi.
In September, Jharkiholi, a sugar baron, emerged at the forefront of a rebellion in the Congress over attempts by his one-time associate Shivakumar to gain control over Belagavi region through his aide and Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar. The crisis was stemmed by the Congress directing Shivakumar to stay away from Belagavi.
Jharkiholi was dropped as minister in the December reshuffle. He was also asked to stay away from Bellary region during a Lok Sabha bypoll in November where Shivakumar spearheaded a campaign that brought the Congress victory.
Though Bellary MLAs Singh, Ganesh, Bheema Naik and Nagendra were hoping to be made ministers after helping the Congress wrest the seat from the BJP, it was supporters of Siddaramaiah — P T Parameshwara Naik and E Tukaram — who found a place in the cabinet in the reshuffle.