Bengaluru: The tussle for power in Madhya Pradesh turned ugly in Bengaluru when a minister from MP, who was on a rescue mission to wean away the rebel Congress MLAs, was allegedly assaulted.
Jitu Patwari, a minister in the Kamal Nath government, was pushed and shoved as he had a scuffle with the Karnataka police when he tried to barge into the Embassy Boulevard resort where rebel Congress MLAs are lodged.
Aiding Patwari was the newly-appointed Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar who took the rescue mission as a personal challenge.
After Patwari was allegedly manhandled, the Congress released a video and filed a formal complaint.
However, the police took into preventive custody Patwari and Narayan Chaudhary, another minister who was part of the 'barge-in' brigade from Madhya Pradesh.
They were later released by the police. The two ministers then had a long chat with Sivakumar.
More than 20 MLAs, including ministers in the Kamal Nath government, are lodged at the resort here.
Sources said Patwari and Shivakumar are chalking out new plans to reach out to the rebel MLAs. Shivakumar had played a similar role last year when Karnataka Congress faced a rebellion that brought the BJP back to power in the state.
However, sources said Shivakumar seems to have finally met his match in Aravind Limbavali who has been appointed by the BJP high command to protect the rebel Congress MLAs.
Taking a leaf out of Shivakumar's book, Limbavali has not only successfully kept the flock of rebels together, but has also shielded them ferociously from a prying media and Congress glare.
The 'operation' to get Congress legislators to cross over began on February 20 when Limbavali was summoned to Delhi and given charge to safeguard legislators. Limbavali was in constant touch with central leaders on a daily basis and only Yediyurappa was in the loop locally.
“Considering his experience and his role in bringing the BJP to power, Limbavali was handpicked by the party leadership to safeguard the MLAs. He is using it to his advantage to emerge as BJP's troubleshooter, a tag Shivakumar had earned in Congress,” a Limbavali aide said.
Meanwhile, the father of Congress MLA Manoj Choudhary - who represents Hatpipaliya constituency in Madhya Pradesh Assembly -- claimed that his son had been kidnapped. Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffar said the party will register a kidnapping case.
Veteran leader Digvijaya Singh accused the Bengaluru police of behaving like goons. He claimed that no one was allowed to enter the resort — "our MLAs have been abducted and their mobile phones snatched," he said.