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Madhya Pradesh ministers stopped from meeting MLAs at resort

BENGALURU/BHOPAL: High drama was witnessed at the resort where 19 Congress MLAs of Madhya Pradesh are holed up, after ministers Jitu Patwari and Lakhan Singh, who had turned up there on Thursday to meet the lawmakers, were arrested. They were later released. The Congress has alleged that its MLAs are being forcibly held hostage inside the resort by the BJP and wanted them rescued.

The rebel drama could partially shift to Bhopal on Friday, as Assembly Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati has summoned six of them to appear before him to tender their resignation letters. All six are ministers and the notices were sent on Wednesday.

Whether or not they will appear is unclear, as BJP leader Bhupendra Singh said, “We’ve requested the Speaker to interact with them through video conference.”

On Thursday, the Speaker sent similar notices to seven other rebel MLAs, asking them to appear on Saturday. The final set of notices to nine MLAs will be sent by Friday, Principal Secretary (Vidhan Sabha) A P Singh told this newspaper.

IN what seems to be a rerun of the Karnataka episode, where then minister D K Shivakumar was forced to wait outside a Mumbai resort to meet the rebel MLAs, the two MP ministers were stopped from meeting the party MLAs at the resort in Bengaluru on Thursday. Even as visuals of the scuffle went viral, Assistant Commissioner of Police P T Subramanya insisted that the MLAs were only being given protection as they had earlier given a letter to the DG&IGP seeking security. The viral visuals show ministers Jitu Patwari and Lakhan Singh engaging in a heated argument with the police at the resort. Patwari is then seen making an attempt to meet his party MLAs when ACP Subramanya rushes after him and a scuffle ensues.

Policemen in plainclothes not only stopped Patwari, but also bundled him into a police vehicle and arrested him. It took a call from KPCC president D K Shivakumar to get the arrested MP minister released. Ironically, Shivakumar was detained in similar circumstances on July 10 last year after he tried to rescue ‘disgruntled legislators’ of his party who were holed up in a hotel in Mumbai. The police officer said, “Patwari reached the resort around noon and forced his way inside. Since the Madhya Pradesh MLAs who are staying there have requested us for protection, I told him to stay away from them. When he tried to barge into the rooms of the MLAs, I immediately took him into preventive custody and brought him to the police station”.

Meanwhile, Youth Congress activists gathered in front of the resort and raised slogans against the BJP government. Holding placards, the protesters sat in front of the gate for about half an hour. The police later took them all into preventive custody.