Karnataka Congress rebel makes U-turn, flies off to Mumbai

Bengaluru (IANS) In a sudden u-turn, rebel Karnataka Housing Minister M.T.B. Nagaraj flew to Mumbai on Sunday, a day after assuring state Congress leaders that he would withdraw his resignation as a legislator and attend the Assembly on Monday.

While a Congress spokesman said Nagaraj gave no reason for his trip, other leaders accused the opposition BJP of taking Nagaraj forcibly to Mumbai in an aircraft that belongs its Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekar.

"Nagaraj flew in a chartered aircraft to Mumbai in the afternoon. We don't know the reason, as he didn't inform us. We hope he will return by Monday in time to attend the session," Congress spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS here.

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, who along with Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, and Water Resource Minister D.K. Shivakumar on Saturday persuaded Nagaraj to withdraw his resignation he submitted to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on July 10, hit out against the BJP.

"As shown in many news channels, BJP leader Ashoka and state unit President B.S. Yeddyurappa's private secretary Santosh have accompanied Nagaraj to Mumbai. What nexus they have with Nagaraj? Is this is not 'operation kamal' (lotus) of the saffron party to destabilise our government," he alleged.

"We learnt later that Nagaraj flew to Mumbai to meet (another rebel Congress lawmaker) K. Sudhakar, who also went to Mumbai on Saturday, and joined the 10 other rebel lawmakers staying in a star hotel since July 6 night," said a party official. Sudhakar had also submitted his resignation along with Nagaraj on July 10. 

Accusing the BJP of standards, state Congress President Dinesh Gundu Rao said BJP leaders claim they have nothing to do with the rebel MLAs and yet whisk them away to Mumbai and put them in a star hotel since a week.

"We came to know that each legislator has been offered a whopping Rs 100 crore for resigning from their assembly seats to reduce the government to a minority," he alleged.

Nagaraj, who represents the party from Hoskote segment in Bengaluru Rural, is one of the richest lawmakers in the country, with assets value at Rs 907 crore, as per the affidavit in the nomination he filed before the Assembly election in May 2018.

The 10-day session resumes on Monday while the Supreme Court adjourned to July 16 the joint petitions the 10 rebel legislators filed seeking its direction to the Speaker for accepting their resignations forthwith.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, directed the Speaker to maintain staus quo of the resignations till it decided on the maintainability of the petitions and if the top court could intervene in the matter pertaining to legislature.

Five more Congress rebel legislators - Nagaraj, Sudhakar, Anand Singh, Roshan Baig and Munirathna - filed petitions in the Supreme Court on Saturday to implead them in the case its bench was already hearing since Thursday.

Of the 16 rebel lawmakers who resigned, 13 belong to the Congress and 3 to the Janata Dal-Secular. 

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