It was high drama as some dissident MLAs from Karnataka flew into and out of Mumbai on Thursday. It started when 12 MLAs —four of the BJP and the others Independents — landed here around 1.30 a.m., with local party workers gathering outside the airport in a show of strength.
Both Vinod Tawde, MLC who had gone to the airport to meet the Karnataka rebels, and BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari maintained that the dissidents left for Goa later.
However, some confusion prevailed as it was learnt that some of the MLAs visited Shirdi and some were planning to return to Bangalore during the day.
Mr. Tawde told journalists that on information that the Karnataka MLAs would arrive by a Kochi flight, he and a number of party workers went to the airport.
Among the MLAs were Anant Asnotikar, B. Jarakiholi, Nagaraj, Nanjundaswamy, Sampangi, Raju Kage, Narendra Swami, S. Thangadagi, Sudhakar and Venkat Ramanappa. When the MLAs landed, the police escorted them from the departure gate to four waiting vehicles. The BJP workers went after them in a convoy, which was headed for the Hyatt hotel near the airport, followed by the media. However, before reaching the hotel, the MLAs returned to the airport. Mr. Sudhakar, an independent, told journalists that the whole group was going to Shirdi to seek the blessings of Sai Baba. While the MLAs were allowed to use the VIP lounge at the airport, some of them ventured out, only to be chased by the media again. Mr. Tawde said the MLAs later left for Panjim at 11.50 a.m. However, it is learnt that some of them stayed back and did indeed visit Shirdi.
While it is learnt that some of the MLAs did approach the Congress, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told The Hindu that his party was not involved in the matter. “We are not concerned with the internal political workings of the BJP at all,” he said.
Keywords: Karnataka BJP