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Crisis in Karnataka, Section 144 in Mumbai

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The Karnataka crisis has taken a new turn with Congress Minister D.K. Shivakumar denied entry into the hotel where the rebel MLAs of Congress-JD(S) alliance are staying. Shivakumar had booked a room in the Renaissance hotel in Powai but his reservation has been cancelled by the hotel. After being denied entry into the hotel, Shivakumar stated that he is not a terrorist. The hotel staff informed Shivakumar that his accommodation has been cancelled due to some emergency situation. Shivakumar stated, “I am a citizen and not a minister. I am not a terrorist and this is pure politics.” If the coalition regime does finally fall, Karnataka may have an alternative government by the BJP perhaps, after the party moves a successful no-confidence motion in the Assembly.

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi said, “The central government is responsible for the Karnataka crisis. They are trying to weaken the opposition andare indulging in corruption. To hold elections and to govern the country, they are indulging in horse-trading activities. They have come to power by misleading the voters. Police, Income tax department, Enforcement department, and Intelligence department are working at the behest of the BJP government.”

The half-way, simple-majority mark in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly for a party or parties to form a government is 113. When the resignations of the 13 MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s strength will come down from 118 to 105 (Congress – 69, JD(S) – 34, BSP – 1, Independent – 1). The BJP’s current strength in the Assembly too is 105. However, this equation will worsen for the coalition, if more legislators resign, which they might.

Congress spokesperson Hemlata Patil said, “Why was Shivakumar denied accommodation in the hotel? He is not a terrorist. Attempts are being made by the BJP government to topple the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka. They want to come to power in Karnataka by hook or crook.”

The dissidents and the BJP, working in close coordination, are adopting the time-tested ‘resign and reduce’ technique to topple the government without falling foul of the anti-defection law. As part of this, BJP-patented system, ruling members neither violate a whip of their party nor join another party. They simply resign as MLAs, which reduces the effective strength of the Assembly and the half-way, majority mark.

BJP MP Dilip Patel said, “The government has imposed section 144 in Powai and there is no need to create a hue and cry over it. There is a tendency to blame BJP for all incidents. The BJP has won with a good mandate. The Congress always holds Modi, Amit Shah and BJP for everything. Congress and JD(S) government lack majority in Karnataka.”

To maintain law and order in the area section 144 has been imposed in Powai from July 9 to July 12. Police security has been tightened outside the hotel.

Rebel MLA’s chanted slogans asking Kumaraswamy to go back. On the other hand, Shivakumar stated, “I have already booked for my accommodation in the hotel. Nobody can prevent me from entering the hotel.” Rebel MLAs also informed the police that Shivakumar is a threat to them and demanded police protection. Therefore, police had prevented him from entering the hotel.

Shivakumar said, “I have booked a room in the hotel. My friends are staying in the hotel. There is no question of me threatening anyone. The Mumbai police must be allowed to do their duty. I have come here to meet my friends.”

Shivakumar is trying to convince the rebel MLAs to return to the party fold. The MLAs have submitted their resignations to the Speaker and are staying in Mumbai, apparently at the behest of the BJP, threatening the stability of the coalition government.

Stating that he would stay put at the gate till he was allowed in, Shivakumar said, “I am not going in with a weapon, I only have a heart. I am going to talk to them.”

“I have reservation here [in the hotel] and should be allowed in. When BJP leaders R. Ashok and Bopaiah are being let in, why but not us,” he asked.

“I don’t want to harm anyone. I have a lot of respect for the Maharashtra government. This is the first time such a thing is happening. Let the police accompany me inside. I have not come with any weapon. I want to go into the room that I have booked and freshen up, have coffee,” Shivakumar said

Eleven rebel MLA’s of Congress and JD(S) are staying in Renaissance hotel. Som Shekar has said that he will continue to be a Congress leader despite quitting from the post of MLA. He said, “I won’t reconsider my resignation. We are preparing out next strategy after quitting from MLA’s post.” Even BJP MLAs were spotted at this hotel.

Meanwhile, former Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora took to Twitter and posted, “I have spoken to @D.K Shivakumarji and assured him that local Congress leaders and workers are available to lend any support.”

“I urge the Karnataka MLAs to return to Bengaluru and resolve the matter constitutionally. BJP is sponsoring this sabotage by misusing its power in Maharashtra,” he added.

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