The Maharashtra BJP claimed on Sunday that it was not aware of the presence of 10 dissident MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) combine from Karnataka in Mumbai, even as a saffron party leader was spotted at a hotel where the legislators are put up.
Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan accused the BJP of attempting to topple the democratically elected Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka and misusing official machinery in the saffron party-ruled states for “murdering” democracy.
After putting in their papers, 10 MLAs boarded a chartered flight to Mumbai and arrived at the hotel late Saturday night, sources close to them said.
When contacted, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye said, “We are not aware of the presence of any MLA from Karnataka in Mumbai. We have nothing to do with the developments.”
However, Karnataka Congress MLA Mahendra Singhi and Maharashtra BJP legislator Prasad Lad were seen at the hotel on Sunday morning.
Singhi later told reporters that he met Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi to discuss the reasons behind the latter quitting the Assembly membership.
“There is no threat to our government as the issues will be resolved on the chief minister’s return,” Singhi said.
Lad, however, refused to speak on his presence at the hotel.
“I don’t know anything about this and came to know about it in the media. I am busy with the BJP membership drive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ashok Chavan alleged that the BJP leadership had a dictatorial mindset and does not want to allow state governments headed by opposition parties to function.
“Their singular agenda is to ensure the downfall of opposition parties-led governments by hook or crook, including misusing the government machinery. The BJP wrested power in similar ways in Goa, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. The focus is now on West Bengal and Karnataka,” he charged.
Referring to the presence of 10 dissident MLAs of the Karnataka ruling combine in Mumbai, Chavan said instead of focusing on solving people’s issues, the BJP-led Maharashtra government was busy working for the downfall of the southern state’s government.
“BJP leaders are bringing Congress legislators by private flights to Mumbai and keeping them at five-star hotels. The richest political party is luring legislators from other parties with money and this needs to be condemned,” Chavan said.
Earlier, rebel JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath told reporters on Saturday that “14 MLAs from Congress and JD(S) have resigned”, but Karnataka Assembly secretariat sources said 13 legislators have put in their papers, including Vijayanagara MLA Anand Singh, who had submitted his resignation to the speaker’s office earlier in the week.
The JD(S)-Congress coalition’s total strength, including those who have put in their papers, is 118 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1 and Independents-2), besides the speaker.
The BJP has 105 MLAs in the Karnataka House.