Karnataka Congress Leader DK Shivakumar Fails To Meet Rebels, Escorted To Mumbai Airport


DK Shivakumar was stopped from entering the hotel after the rebels wrote to police asking for protection


Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar was “escorted” to the Mumbai airport by policemen on Wednesday, which ended his efforts to meet rebel lawmakers staying at a five-star hotel in the city since Saturday. Mr Shivakumar had earlier been detained, along with Mumbai Congress leader Milind Deora, after a six-hour wait outside the Renaissance hotel.

“Mr Milind Deora and other Congress leaders have been released. The police is taking Mr DK Shivkumar to the airport. He is being forcibly sent back to Bengaluru,” news agency ANI quoted Mr Deora’s office as saying.

Mr Shivakumar was stopped from entering the hotel after the rebels wrote to the Mumbai police asking for protection from him and other leaders who may try to meet them.

The Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition in Karnataka is fighting for survival after 16 exits since last week. Two more resigned today, tipping the balance further in favour of rival BJP.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar has rejected eight of the resignations as “not in order” and asked the rebels to meet him on July 17, which has bought the coalition a little more time to try and stave off the crisis.

Waiting in the rain outside the Renaissance, Mr Shivakumar said he would not move without speaking to the rebel lawmakers who, on the other hand, refused to meet him.

“Shameful use of the police by the government,” said the Congress troubleshooter, who has accused the BJP – which rules Maharashtra – of trying to engineer a crisis to seize power in Karnataka.

The Mumbai police had posted scores of its personnel at the hotel after the rebel lawmakers wrote to them last night asking for security.

When Mr Shivakumar landed this morning in Mumbai from Bengaluru and drove to the hotel, the police said: “They (rebels) are frightened of you. We cannot allow you to enter.”

Amid “go back” slogans from protesters hanging off the gate, Mr Shivakumar flashed a hotel room booking confirmation on his phone and also claimed he wanted to have coffee inside the hotel with his friends, but the police refused to step aside.

“I’ll not go without meeting my friends. They’ll call me. Their heart will break. I’m in touch already, hearts of both of us are beating,” Mr Shivakumar said, adding dramatically: “I have a heart, no weapons.”

The hotel soon cancelled his booking citing an “emergency”. But the hotel staff served him doughnuts, tea and coffee, according to news agency ANI.

“We don’t intend to insult DK Shivakumar. We’ve faith in him but there is a reason we have taken this step. Friendship, love and affection are on one side, with gratitude and respect we request him to understand why we cannot meet him today,” said B Basavaraj, a rebel Congress lawmaker.

Five hours into his wait, the Karnataka leader was joined by Milind Deora.

Thirteen rebels have been in Mumbai since they submitted their resignations on Saturday. They approached the Supreme Court today; they were represented by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi ,who alleged that the Speaker had “abandoned his constitutional duty” and was deliberately delaying accepting the resignations. Their case will be taken up tomorrow.

If the resignations stand, the Congress-JDS coalition’s 118 members in the 224-seat state assembly will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which takes its tally to 107.

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