While the Congress was all smiles by the afternoon of Saturday, behind it lay many anxious moments, particularly over “missing” legislators. The first was in the wee hours of Saturday, when the Congress MLAs were getting ready to leave Hyderabad where they had been herded by the party, for the trust vote in Bengaluru. A shiver went around when it was discovered that one among the 78 in Congress ranks was “not in his room or anywhere in the hotel”.
Several minutes of frantic hunt later, the MLA was found in the hotel swimming pool. Sources in the Congress said all the MLAs had been asked to stay in their rooms and inform the leadership if they moved out. “The instructions were clear, but many MLAs were under severe stress. The MLA was given a stern warning,” a senior Congress leader said.
Later, in Bengaluru, the party spent two hours searching desperately for MLAs Pratapgouda Patil and Anand Singh. Suspicions strengthened when the Congress heard from sources that the two were in a hotel, some 3 km from the Assembly, with a BJP legislator, Somashekhara Reddy.
As the Congress alleged that the MLAs were being held against their will, it sent the Bengaluru Police Commissioner and Karnataka Director General of Police rushing to the hotel.
After a short search, a senior police officer confirmed, Patil was escorted from the hotel to the Assembly. “Police were there to ensure Patil was not prevented from casting his vote in any way. Somashekhara Reddy was with Patil at the hotel,” the officer said. Sources in the police said Anand Singh was also at the same hotel but left for some other place before eventually making his way to the Assembly.
Somashekhara Reddy denied allegations that he was with the Congress MLAs. “I was with my brother at another hotel. I don’t even know who they (Singh and Patil) are,” he said. The Congress eventually heaved a sigh of relief when the Assembly proceedings began. By 3 pm, well in time for the trust vote, all its 78 were in the Assembly and seated.