BENGALURU: In an ugly turn in the ongoing power game in Karnataka, a Congress MLA was injured in an alleged brawl with a colleague lawmaker at a resort even as the party issued notices to its four legislators, who skipped a crucial Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting amid BJP’s alleged poaching attempt.
Anand Singh was hospitalised after he and J N Ganesh, both from Ballari district, had a heated argument and came to blows late Saturday night at the resort where the party MLAs are herded together, Congress sources said Sunday.
In its notices to four MLAs on Sunday, the party sought to know why action should not be taken against them under the anti-defection law for not attending the Friday’s CLP meeting that was a show of strength against BJP’s alleged bid to dislodge the ruling coalition.
Singh has “a black eye and suffered blunt injuries,” according to sources at the private hospital where he is undergoing treatment. He had also complained of uneasiness in the chest but was now in the ward and “fine”, they added.
Ganesh is among the disgruntled Congress MLAs who was reportedly in touch with other dissidents in the party and on the BJP’s radar in its alleged toppling game.
State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa urged Governor Vajubhai Vala and Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to seek a report on the incident involving the two MLAs.
Congress spokesperson and former Nizamabad MP Madhu Goud Yakshi said the scuffle was related to some business issue and had nothing to do with politics. “It was personal district related. They are all together in business. The scuffle has nothing to do with politics. They come from the same district and have business relations. It (the fight) is something related to that. It has nothing to do with politics,” he said.
The two MLAs had dinner together in his presence and everything was cordial but after he left the fight broke out, Yakshi said.
Bidadi police under whose jurisdiction the Eagleton resort is located, said they have not received any complaint so far.
A posse of policemen has been deployed in front of the hospital with no visitor being allowed.
In a dig at the Congress, BJP tweeted, “It’s unfortunate that @KPCCPresident was unable to stop the fight in Eagleton resort. We hope Anand Singh is being treated & we pray for his speedy recovery. Unfortunately @dineshgrao can’t even blame BJP now, MLAs were locked up under his watch at Eagleton. Whats ur excuse now?”
Yeddyurappa said Siddaramaiah was answerable for the incident and demanded that police record Singh’s statement.
Senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister R Ashok asked the Congress to produce Singh before the media and said police should initiate legal action in the case.
Senior minister D K Shivakumar, however, brushed aside reports that Singh had been assaulted and claimed all the Congress MLAs were united. “Someone has misled. There was no fracas. There was no incident of smashing of bottle (on Singh’s head). It is all fake news. Everyone is together. The entire Congress is united,” he said.
As it struggled to keep its MLAs on leash, the Congress Sunday issued notices to Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as minister in the recent cabinet rejig and is said to be miffed over it, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli, Congress sources said.
Exposing fissures in the party, the four lawmakers had skipped the CLP meet, held amid the political turmoil that broke out on Monday last with BJP MLAs ensconced in a luxury hotel in Gurugram.
The BJP MLAs flew back home Saturday night after Yeddyurappa asked them to return and said the party would not destabilise the Kumaraswamy government.
The absence of four at the CLP meet posed no imminent threat to the seven-month old Congress-JDS government in the numbers game but suggested the crisis for it was far from over.