Amid Karnataka crisis, why this Mumbai hotel took the spotlight
As the Karnataka government reels under a string of resignations from MLAs of the ruling Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition, an upscale hotel in Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex took centerstage. About a dozen MLAs, who recently resigned from the legislative assembly, took shelter at the Sofitel Mumbai over the weekend before shifting base to an unknown location. So, what makes the Sofitel so special?
Owned by Jayesh Shah, the Sofitel witnesses frequent visits from politicians and celebrities alike. Apart from offering a host of luxury facilities and tight security, the hotel is a quick 20-minute drive away from the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport. Additionally, Shiv Sena secretary Milind Narvekar allegedly oversees the Sofitel's workers' union directly, a BJP leader told Mumbai Mirror, keeping the Congress blind to back-end deals.
Separately, a source said, "Uddhav (Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief) loves Sofitel," and the party has held many meetings with the BJP at Sofitel since 2014. Reportedly, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also made reparations with Thackeray and BJP chief Amit Shah here ahead of the elections.
Back to recent events, on Saturday, 13 MLAs (10 Congress and 3 JD-S) submitted their resignations and were flown to Mumbai as part of 'Operation Lotus': the name ascribed to BJP's multiple attempts to topple the state government. On Monday, Independent MLA H Nagesh and KPJP MLA R Shankar's resignations followed. Congress MLA Anand Singh had also resigned earlier this month.
After the legislators' resignations on Saturday, they were flown to Mumbai and sheltered at Sofitel. On Sunday, they left Sofitel in a bus as the Mumbai Youth Congress held a protest outside the hotel against the BJP "horse-trading" MLAs. According to reports, the MLAs are rumored to be headed for either Goa or Pune. Four legislators are reportedly at the Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, according to The News Minute, Karnataka minister and Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar is trying to get four Bengaluru MLAs- Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout), ST Somashekar (Yeshwanthpur), Byarathu Basavaraj (KR Puram), and Munirathna (Rajarajeshwarinagar)- to retract their resignations. Shivakumar also met with the former prime minister and JD(S) veteran HD Deve Gowda as the two parties held several meetings to deal with the crisis.
The Congress-JD(S) alliance holds 118 out of 224 seats in the Karnataka legislative assembly. Following the rebel legislators' resignations, the alliance would have 105 seats and the majority mark would swoop to 106 from 113. The BJP also holds 105 assembly seats.