The chartered plane in which 10 dissident MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) flew from in Bengaluru to Mumbai belongs to a company associated with Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, company sources said in Bengaluru. The plane belongs to Jupiter Capital Private Limited. Chandrasekhar is the founder and chairman of the company.
Admitting that the aircraft that ferried the MLAs belonged to Jupiter Capital, the company officials clarified that they were running a business and whoever wanted to use the plane could do so.
"It is a charter operation and the aircraft is chartered regularly by various people," a top official of the company told PTI requesting anonymity.
The officials refused to divulge the information as to who had booked the flight and on whose behalf.
The Congress has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of hatching a conspiracy to topple the party's coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah, former Union minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Karnataka Water Resource Minister D K Shivakumar reiterated their charge on Sunday that the saffron party was behind the current political turmoil in the southern state.
However, the BJP has been maintaining that it has nothing to do with it and the rebellion is a fallout of the squabbling between the two ruling coalition partners.
Congress spokesperson K E Radhakrishna told PTI, "It is obvious that their (BJP's) hand is very much behind (the attempt to topple the government). They cannot fool people. Central leaders of the BJP are involved in this. Their role is as clear as the sun."
He claimed that the chartered plane was kept ready at the HAL Airport here to fly the dissident legislators out as soon as they came out of the Raj Bhavan after meeting Governor Vajubhai Vala on Saturday.
Radhakrishna alleged that the conspiracy to bring down the government was planned a week earlier, when rebel JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath went to Delhi and met BJP leaders there.
Vishwanath could not be contacted, despite repeated attempts. The JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka is facing a crisis after 12 MLAs of the alliance submitted their resignations to the state Assembly Speaker on Saturday.
The troubled ruling coalition, which has 118 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly, faces the risk of losing its majority in the House if the resignations are accepted.
Both the JD(S) and the Congress have been plagued by dissension over allocation of ministerial berths and distribution of Lok Sabha poll tickets. The cracks became deeper after the BJP swept the parliamentary election in the state.
Ten of the MLAs who resigned flew by the chartered plane to Mumbai on Saturday. They have been lodged at a hotel there.