HDK, DK Shivakumar inspect security arrangements at Assembly ahead of rebel MLAs’ meeting with Speaker

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Karnataka news LATEST updates: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Congress leader DK Shivakumar and other coalition leaders are inspecting security arrangement at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru. The rebel MLAs have been directed by the Supreme Court to meet Karnataka Assembly speaker at 6 pm on Thursday and resubmit their resignations.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar had moved court to request more time for filing his reply. The application filed by the speaker requests the court to vacate the interim order passed this morning directing the Speaker to meet the rebel MLAs today.

Two more rebel MLAs from Karnataka have joined their dissident colleagues who are staying at a hotel in Mumbai, on Thursday, PTI reported.

As the rebel MLAs are heading to Bangalore to appear before the Speaker, the Bangalore Police is getting ready to tackle any kind of face-off between the BJP, Congress and JD(S) workers. According to one of the top police officers, additional protection has been already put into place, right from the airport to Vidhana Soudha. The MLAs’ vehicle will also be escorted to the Vidhana Soudha.

Congress leader Siddaramaiah has reportedly requested Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to disqualify at least two of the 16 rebel MLAs, Ramesh Jarkhiholi and Mahesh Kumathhalli.

The Supreme Court on Thursday requested Speaker KR Ramesh to communicate his decision to the court by Friday and asked DGP Karnataka to grant security to 10 rebel MLAs when they reach Bangalore from Mumbai.

Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Anand Sharma protested in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament on Wednesday against Karnataka and Goa political crisis.

Amid the political upheaval in Karnataka, a meeting of the state Cabinet will be held on Thursday at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru. According to the Chief Minister’s Office, the Cabinet meeting will have all the ministers as they have only submitted their resignations to their party presidents, not to Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.

The meeting comes a day after Karnataka Water Minister DK Shivakumar, who went to Mumbai to meet the rebel MLAs staying at a hotel there, was detained by Mumbai Police and not allowed to meet the rebel MLAs. Shivakumar, who returned to Bengaluru late on Wednesday, said it was a “matter of shame” that he was “forcefully deported” back to Bengaluru. “Mumbai is known for its hospitality. I had booked a room there and was on an official visit to meet my friends and colleagues, but BJP and officials misused their authority. It’s a matter of shame,” Shivakumar told ANI.

Soon after Shivakumar, rebel Karnataka Congress MLA ST Somashekar also returned to Bengaluru from Mumbai. Somashekhar, who is the Chairman of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), is expected to attend a meeting of the BDA scheduled to take place later today. “I have come back. I will be here in Bengaluru; I am not going back to Mumbai. I have resigned, (but) I am in Congress party,” Somashekar told ANI after returning to Bengaluru.

Somashekar, along with nine other MLAs of Congress and JDS, was staying at the Renaissance – Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel. Shivakumar had reached the hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday morning to pacify the rebel MLAs. He was, however, forced to sit outside the hotel after being denied entry. Later, Mumbai Police detained Shivakumar, Milind Deora, and other Congressmen and kept them at Kalinga University rest house.

The 13-month old Congress-JD(S) government slumped into crisis following the resignation of 10 MLAs from the membership of the state Assembly last week. Congress’ Roshan Baig and independent H Nagesh have also deserted the HD Kumaraswamy government. The Congress has been accusing the BJP of conspiring to topple the coalition government in Karnataka. The ruling alliance is making all efforts to protect its government which seems to have fallen short of a majority.

The state Assembly has 225 members, including one nominated MLA. The halfway mark in the 225-member Assembly is 113.

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