Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was on Wednesday placed under preventive custody after he sat in protest outside a hotel in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where rebel Madhya Pradesh MLAs are staying, reported NDTV. At least 19 Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs are allegedly holed up in a hotel in Bengaluru, even as the state government teeters on the brink of collapse. Karnataka is a state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Singh reached Bengaluru early on Wednesday morning, and was received by Congress’ Karnataka unit chief DK Shivakumar. “I am a Rajya Sabha candidate from Madhya Pradesh, voting is scheduled for March 26,” Singh told ANI. “My MLAs have been kept here, they want to speak to me, their phones have been snatched, police is not letting me speak to them saying there is a security threat to MLAs.”
The senior Congress leader was taken away by the police after he began his sit-in protest outside the hotel in Bengaluru. He has reportedly been taken to Amruthahalli police station in Bengaluru. Singh told reporters that he was on a hunger strike. “BJP government in state is misusing the power,” said Shivakumar. “We have our own political strategy, we know how to handle the situation. He is not alone here. I am here. I know how to support him. But I don’t want to create a law and order situation in Karnataka.”
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon sent a letter to Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati on Wednesday saying he had made an “impartial and courageous” decision by accepting the resignations of six ministers of Nath-led government. “I can appreciate your concern for the security of the missing MLAs in view of their absence from the House as mentioned in your letter dated March 17, 2020,” the letter read, according to PTI. “I can also guess the kind of pain you are undergoing since last 8-10 days in view of the above.”
The Congress on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre and the Karnataka government to grant it access to its Madhya Pradesh MLAs. Earlier on the same day, the top court issued a notice to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his government over a petition filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party seeking an immediate floor test in the Assembly. The court will hear the matter on Wednesday at 10.30 am.
The story so far
The demand for a floor test arose after Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the Congress to join the BJP. Governor Tandon had ordered the floor test after at least 22 MLAs, loyal to Scindia, sent their resignations to him. However, the Assembly was on Monday adjourned without a floor test till March 26 as a preventive step to contain the coronavirus. In the evening though, the governor warned the chief minister that if the state government “fails to prove majority in the floor test on March 17, it would be deemed that your government is not in majority.”
Until early last week, the state government, which was formed in late 2018, had the support of 121 MLAs in the 230-seat Assembly – 114 MLAs of the Congress, and the rest being from the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and some Independents. However, the resignations of as many as 22 Congress MLAs on Tuesday have made the government’s collapse imminent. The BJP has 107 MLAs, while two seats are vacant.