BENGALURU: The Congress-JDS coalition invested all of Saturday in wooing Hoskote MLA and Housing minister M T B Nagaraj.
The Kuruba leader, who agreed to reconsider his resignation, shocked the Congress when he took off, quite literally, to Mumbai on Sunday, accompanied by BJP leaders.
Nagaraj joined the other rebel MLAs in Mumbai, crushing the coalition’s hopes of getting his support.
“It was clear on Saturday that he was going to bolt when he started a tirade against Revanna and Kumaraswamy in the Chief Minister’s presence itself.
"We should have realised it when he petitioned the Supreme Court along with Sudhakar and Muniratna,” said a source privy to the discussions that took place at Siddaramaiah’s residence on Saturday.
When asked about Nagaraj’s flip-flop, H K Patil of the Congress told the media, “He perhaps went to convince the other rebel MLAs to withdraw their resignations,” The Congress leadership, however, knows better than that.
“I was a minister for namesake. Revanna was controlling everything. I could not even effect a transfer by myself as a minister. I had to resign,” Nagaraj told the media before he left for the HAL airport from where he boarded a chartered flight to Mumbai, accompanied by BJP’s R Ashoka and Yeddyurappa’s man-Friday Santosh.
The coalition had hoped to rope in Sudhakar as soon as Nagaraj withdrew his resignation.
“We are appealing to the MLAs that all their demands will be looked into one by one. Every issue will be addressed,” Water Resources minister D K Shivakumar told the media on Sunday, acknowledging that coordination and compatibility were issues gnawing at the coalition.
As Congress began reiterating that rebel MLAs will withdraw their resignations, S T Somashekhar, speaking for the 12 rebel MLAs in Mumbai currently, conveyed that they would stand their ground.
“There are currently 12 of us in Mumbai and all MLAs are united. Sudhakar is in New Delhi. Irrespective of what anyone may say, there is no question of us taking back our resignations,” he said.
Somashekhar denied any BJP leader’s presence or involvement.
“No leader of the BJP came with us to Mumbai. In fact, we have asked hotel authorities not to allow anyone who intends to meet us,” Somashekhar insisted.
The total number of coalition legislators holed up in Mumbai now stands at 12.
The two independent MLAs are also in Mumbai while another rebel MLA is in New Delhi.
Muniratna, Anand Singh and Ramalinga Reddy continue to be in Bengaluru. The trio now remain the focus of the coalition’s attention.