It is that time of the year when MLAs in Karnataka find themselves on the move. A batch of rebel MLAs already flew into Mumbai on Saturday evening and checked into Sofitel Hotel, to remain unavailable to Congress and JD(S) overtures. Independent MLA H Nagesh who also resigned on Monday, flew to Mumbai.
About 30-odd JD(S) will travel to Kodagu district where the party managers have reportedly booked 35 rooms at Paddington resort near Sunticoppa for three nights. It is to prevent the rest of the flock from being wooed by the BJP.
Keeping in mind the seniority of leadership, ten villas, 15 deluxe rooms and ten cottages have been booked. Three of the villas are by the poolside, perhaps to reassure the seniormost leaders that the government does not find itself in deep waters.
Incidentally, TTV Dhinakaran from Tamil Nadu had sent the group of AIADMK MLAs who were supporting him to the same resort in September 2017.
[Update : In a late evening development, this plan was shelved and the JD(S) MLAs were moved to a resort in Devanahalli on the outskirts of Bengaluru]
In May 2018, the Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar had shepharded the party MLAs to Hyderabad even as the BJP government was trying to cobble together the number to prove its majority on the floor of the House.
This time, the Congress is yet to decide on where to head. Though there were reports that the BJP, fearing reverse poaching, would move its legislators to a safe location as well, party chief BS Yeddyurappa has denied any such intention.
But even as all ministers of the Congress and the JD(S) resigned on Monday, in order to allow a restructuring of the cabinet to accommodate the rebel MLAs, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy was in the midst of a controversy. The chief minister flew into Bengaluru’s HAL airport on Sunday after landing in the country from the USA in a private aircraft. The `Monnet’ logo was visible on the aircraft. Monnet Ispat is owned by JSW Steel.
Why this is important is because Anand Singh, the MLA from Vijayanagar who resigned on 1 July, is upset over the Kumaraswamy government’s decision to sell 3667.31 acres of land to JSW Steel in Ballari district at what is deemed to be a throwaway price of Rs 1.20 lakh per acre. Despite advice from other Congress leaders to the government to scrap the deal, the Kumaraswamy regime went ahead with it. The CM flying in a JSW-owned aircraft when the deal has come in for criticism, only raises eyebrows.