Mumbai: High drama was witnessed outside a hotel here on Wednesday as senior Congress leader and Karnataka Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar was prevented from entering the premises where the rebel MLAs are stationed.
Shivakumar, who was accompanied by senior JD(S) MLAs, told reporters that he had booked a room in the hotel but was not being permitted inside. On Tuesday midnight, 10 of the 12 MLAs put up in the luxury hotel in Powai wrote to Mumbai Police, saying they feared a threat to their lives, and asked that Shivakumar be prevented from entering the hotel. "We have received a letter from the rebel MLAs," a senior police official said.
Shivakumar, the Congress troubleshooter, said he will not leave without meeting the MLAs. "I only have a heart that I have come to extend to my friends...politics is an art of possibility," he said. There was a massive police presence outside the hotel where a group was seen shouting "Shivakumar go back". Shivakumar said the police was telling him no room was booked in his name, but the minister insisted that he had booked a room in his name in the hotel.
"I am not afraid of slogans against me. Not being permitted inside because of security threat. I have a lot of respect for the Maharashtra government. I don't have weapons," he said. He wondered how could his presence be a threat to the rebel legislators. "How can I be a threat to the MLAs. We are friends. If the BJP is not involved, why so many policemen are here. I have a heart, and no weapons," he said.
On his arrival, Shivakumar said, "Let the Mumbai Police or any other force be deployed. We have come to meet our friends. We are born together in politics and will die together." He said if BJP leaders can meet rebel MLAs, why can't he. "Mumbai has a good government.Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) is my good friend. I have booked a room here. My friends are here, some disputes are there, they are my friends...if BJP leaders can meet, why can't we meet," he asked.
Shivakumar noted that he had earlier played "host to 120 MLAs from Maharashtra when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister". Twelve MLAs -- seven of the Congress, three of the JD(S) and two Independents -- are in the city since Saturday after resigning from the Karnataka Assembly membership and withdrawing support to the state's coalition government they are put up.
The legislators in their letter said they don't want to meet Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy or Shivakumar and requested the city police not to allow them to enter the hotel promises, he said. The letter had names and signatures of Shivram Hebbar, Pratap Gowda Patil, B C Patil, Byrati Basavraj, S T Somshekar, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Gopalaiyya, H Vishwanath, Narayan Gowda and Mahesh Kumutali.