Rebel Congress MLA from Hoskote MTB Nagaraj on Sunday boarded a private plane and is set to join the renegade legislators holed up at a hotel in Mumbai. Nagaraj’s rebellion came as a shock to the Congress when the leader walked into Vidhana Soudha on Wednesday along with Chikkaballapura MLA Dr K Sudhakar Rao and submitted their resignations.
Speaking to the media, MTB Nagaraj blamed the Public Works Department (PWD) Minister and brother of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy -- HD Revanna, for the rebellion. Nagaraj alleged that Revanna interfered in the transfer of officials in the Housing Department.
“The biggest reason why leaders are unhappy is Revanna. He keeps transferring officials from all departments to suit his needs. I am a minister and if he transfers officials from my department, how can any work be carried out properly? I have discussed this with CM Kumaraswamy many times," MTB Nagaraj said.
However, Nagaraj also said that he is still with the Congress and is trying to hold talks with Chikkaballapura MLA Dr K Sudhakar.
“Sudhakar and I resigned at the same time and we are united. Since the last two days, Sudhakar has switched off his phone. I have spoken to Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar, Kumaraswamy and other leaders. I am still with the Congress and I am trying to convince Sudhakar to return. I will go an meet him in the afternoon,” MTB Nagaraj added.
On Saturday, Nagaraj met a delegation of Congress leaders, including DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, who attempted to pacify the rebelling leader to staying with the coalition.
"The situation was such that we submitted our resignations but now DK Shivakumar and others came and requested us to withdraw the resignations. I will speak to K Sudhakar and then see what is to be done. After all, I have spent decades in Congress,” MTB Nagaraj had said.
Meanwhile, BJP insiders say that Nagaraj was contacted by its Padmanabhanagar MLA R Ashoka and Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavalli, who are believed to have convinced Nagaraj to jump ship.
“R Ashoka and Arvind Limbavalli met MTB Nagaraj and convinced him to side with the BJP. Since MTB Nagaraj could be convinced to remain in Congress, it was decided that he would move to Mumbai and stay with the other MLAs until the trust vote,” a BJP source said.
Nagaraj had also informed the media that he would hold talks with MLA Sudhakar and take a call on whether he must stick with the Congress or move to the BJP. He also insisted that he would remain with the Congress only if Sudhakar decides to stay with the party. MTB Nagaraj’s statement had come as a relief to the Congress, which is pinning its hopes on Nagaraj to convince the rebels to withdraw their resignation. Speaking to TNM, a Congress insider said, "After talks with Nagaraj on Saturday, he told us that he would stay back of Sudhakar also agrees to. We are hoping he will convince the rebels to return and that he will also withdraw his resignation.”
Nagaraj had submitted his resignation on Wednesday and was one of the few MLAs who were not rushed to a resort. Since the latest political crisis hit the state of Karnataka on July 6, Congress leaders have been running from pillar to post to pacify the rebels and bring them back into its fold. DK Shivakumar has been shuffling between Mumbai and Bengaluru, holding discussions with the rebel MLAs, in a bid to convince them to withdraw their resignations.
The Supreme Court on Friday gave the coalition government in Karnataka a much-needed breather as it ordered that status quo pertaining to the resignation and disqualification of 10 members of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly remain in place till the next hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Shortly after the apex court’s decision, Karnataka Chief Minister asked the Speaker to set a date for a floor test in the Assembly.
Sixteen MLAs of the coalition – including three JD(S) MLAs and 13 Congress MLAs – have so far submitted their resignation letters to the Speaker. Most of the MLAs in the state are lodged in various resorts across cities: The Congress MLAs are put up in Taj Vivanta in Yeshwanthpur, JD(S) leaders are at Prestige Golfshire and the BJP MLAs are at Ramada hotel in Yelahanka and Sai Leela hotel in Rajanakunte.