In yet another political twist on a day of fast-paced political developments in Karnataka, two ‘missing’ MLA-elects of the Congress party – Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil – were reportedly traced to the Goldfinch Hotel in Bengaluru, sparking an angry visit by Congress leaders and the DG of Karnataka police, Neelamani N Raju. Pratapgouda Patil was later escorted by the police to Vidhana Soudha, but Singh was not traced yet.
Even as other legislators took oath at the Vidhana Soudha, Congress men landed at the hotel alleging that BJP MLA, and one of the notorious Reddy brothers, Somashekara Reddy was holding the two Congress MLAs captive at the hotel, forcing them to abstain from voting. This was just three hours before the floor test. Somashekara Reddy was not to be seen at Vidhana Soudha, where all the other MLAs were taking oath.
Since the Supreme Court had ordered the Karnataka police to ensure security for MLAs who were to appear for the vote, the state police chief and Bengaluru Police Commissioner T Sunil Kumar rushed to the hotel to ‘rescue’ the MLAs. However, the police have not confirmed if the two missing MLA-elects were indeed inside the hotel premises. Reporters present at the spot claim that they had spotted Anand Singh entering the hotel.
Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar told the media, “Pratapgouda Patil and Anand Singh will vote with the Congress. You want Anand Singh, you will see him in a few minutes. I am not going to tell you how they were taken there, kept there etc. They will tell you that themselves.”
Four-star hotel Goldfinch is just 2.5 kms away from the Vidhana Soudha where the MLAs have gathered to take part in the trust vote, as ordered by the Supreme Court. In the run up to the trust vote, which was advanced by the apex court by 14 days, the Congress-JD(S) combine have alleged that the BJP is poaching their MLAs.
The party is seven members short of the magic figure of 111 (assuming a total strength of 220). With Karnataka delivering a fractured mandate in the May 12 Assembly Election, the Congress-JD(S) had forged a post-poll alliance with favourable numbers on paper to form government. But Governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP, which had emerged as the single largest party, to form the government.
The Congress claimed that MLA-elects Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil were poached by the BJP under threats to their life. Congress leaders allege that the entire incident was orchestrated by BJP MLA Somashekara Reddy with the help of mining baron Janardhana Reddy.
Both the two Congress MLA-elects had been incommunicado ever since the BJP was invited to form the government. While Anand Singh was spotted in Delhi on Thursday, he was found at Taj West End Hotel on Saturday morning. Pratap had left the Eagleton resort on May 16 citing health concerns.