Karnataka turmoil: MLA hurt in alleged brawl with fellow Congress lawmaker

Bengaluru, Karnataka, IndiaUpdated: Jan 21, 2019, 09:59 AM IST

File photo. Photograph:(Zee News Network)

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Anand Singh was hospitalised after he and JN Ganesh, both from Ballari district, had a heated argument and came to blows late last night at the resort where the party MLAs have been herded together.

In an ugly turn in the ongoing power game in Karnataka, a Congress MLA was injured in an alleged brawl with a colleague lawmaker at a resort even as the party issued notices to its four legislators who skipped a crucial CLP meeting amid BJP's alleged poaching attempt.

Anand Singh was hospitalised after he and JN Ganesh, both from Ballari district, had a heated argument and came to blows late last night at the resort where the party MLAs are herded together, Congress sources said Sunday.

In its notices to four MLAs on Sunday, the party sought to know why action should not be taken against them under the anti-defection law for not attending the Friday's Congress Legislature Party Meeting that was a show of strength against BJP's alleged bid to dislodge the ruling coalition.

Singh has "a black eye and suffered blunt injuries," according to sources at the private hospital where he is undergoing treatment. He had also complained of uneasiness in the chest but was now in the ward and "fine", they added.

Ganesh is among the disgruntled Congress MLAs who was reportedly in touch with other dissidents in the party and on the BJP's radar in its alleged toppling game.

State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa urged Governor Vajubhai Vala and Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to seek a report on the incident involving the two MLAs.

Congress spokesperson and former Nizamabad MP Madhu Goud Yakshi said the scuffle was related to some business issue had nothing to do with politics.

"It was personal district related. They are all together in business. The scuffle has nothing to do with politics. They come from the same district and have business relations. It (the fight) is something related to that. It has nothing to do with politics," he said.

The two MLAs had the dinner together in his presence and everything was cordial but after he left the fight broke out, Yakshi told PTI.

Bidadi police under whose jurisdiction the Eagleton resort is located, said they have not received any complaint so far.

A posse of policemen have been deployed in front of the hospital with no visitor being allowed.

"We have not been allowed inside the hospital," Raghunath, a Congress MLA, said.

In a dig at the Congress, BJP tweeted, "It's unfortunate that @KPCCPresident was unable to stop the fight in Eagleton resort. We hope Anand Singh is being treated & we pray for his speedy recovery. Unfortunately @dineshgrao can't even blame BJP now, MLA's were locked up under his watch at Eagleton. Whats ur excuse now?"

Yeddyurappa said Siddaramaiah was answerable for the incident and demanded that police record Singh's statement.

"The brawl between Congress MLAs in a resort and resultant hospitalisation of Anand Singh, has made all 224 legislators hang their heads in shame.

Both the Governor and Speaker must intervene and seek a report on the incident for taking suitable action," he told reporters here.

Senior BJP leader and former Deputy chief minister R Ashok asked the Congress to produce Singh before the media and said police should initiate legal action in the case.

Senior minister D K Shivakumar, however, brushed aside reports that Singh had been assaulted and claimed all the Congress MLAs were united.

"Someone has misled. There was no fracas. There was no incident of smashing of bottle (on Singh's head). It is all fake news. Everyone is together. The entire Congress is united," he said.

As it struggled to keep its MLAs on leash, the Congress Sunday issued notices to Ramesh Jarkiholi, who was dropped as minister in the recent cabinet rejig and is said to be miffed over it, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli, Congress sources said.

Exposing fissures in the party, the four lawmakers had skipped the CLP meet, held amid the political turmoil that broke out on Monday last with BJP MLAs ensconced in a luxury hotel in Gurugram.

The BJP MLAs flew back home last night after Yeddyurappa asked them to return and said the party would not destabilise the Kumaraswamy government.

The absence of four at the CLP meet posed no imminent threat to the seven-month-old Congress-JDS government in the numbers game but suggested the crisis for it was far from over.

In the notice to Jarkiholi, CLP leader Siddaramaiah besides seeking response from him for not attending the MLAs' meeting also asked him to provide an explanation about media reports that he was joining BJP and about his visit to Delhi and Mumbai to meet saffron party leaders.

Asking as to why he has not issued any statement so far rejecting the media reports, Siddaramaiah said "your conduct suggests that you will voluntarily quit from the membership of the Indian National Congress. You have got elected as a legislator on Congress symbol and cannot quit as party member under the Constitution."

Seventy-six of the 80 Congress MLAs had attended the CLP meet.

Ahead of the meet, Siddaramaiah had issued notices to all the party MLAs warning that their absence would be viewed "seriously" and action initiated uner the anti-defection law.

Top Congress sources had said Friday that at least eight party MLAs have "committed" themselves to BJP, an apprehension that caused jitters in the party and made it to shift the legislators to the resort.

As for the BJP camp, party MLC Lehar Singh said all 104 MLAs flew back to the state late Saturday night after Yeddyurappa asked them to return.

Former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa said the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state would fall due to internal bickering and his party would form the government.