Don't blame me for your problems, tweeted Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP on Monday, responding to allegations from the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition in Karnataka that he flew rebel lawmakers to Mumbai by a chartered flight.
Eleven lawmakers of the Congress and JDS were taken from Bengaluru to Mumbai on a special flight hours after they submitted their resignation letters on Saturday. The lawmakers are currently at a five-star hotel in the financial capital.
"Dear Dr Parameshwara - this 'aircraft' is a commercial charter - that has been chartered by many people including your own ministers in the past! So don't blame me or an 'aircraft' or BJP for the problems in your crooked corrupt opprtunistic 'alliance'," Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted.
Dear @DrParameshwara - this "aircraft" is a commercial charter - tht has been chartered by many ppl incldg ur own ministers in past !— Rajeev Chandrasekhar ???????? (@rajeev_mp) July 8, 2019
So dont blame me or an "aircraft" or @BJP4India for the problems in yr crooked corrupt opprtunistic "alliance". ???????????? https://t.co/AlQFZjffPV
Reports said that the chartered plane in which the dissident lawmakers were flown to Mumbai belongs to Jupiter Capital Private Limited, of which Rajeev Chandrasekhar is founder and chairman.
Admitting that the aircraft that ferried the legislators belonged to Jupiter Capital, the company's officials were quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India: "It is a charter operation and the aircraft is chartered regularly by various people."
The officials did not say who had booked the flight and for whom.
The Congress has accused the BJP of engineering the crisis for its coalition government, which has been left struggling for survival after 14 exits. The party also accuses the BJP of relentlessly pursuing the coalition's lawmakers in "Operation Lotus" - a term the Congress uses to describe alleged attempts by the BJP to lure rival members and seize power.
"How are (the rebels) staying in a five-star hotel in Mumbai?" said senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
The BJP insists that the credit for the crisis should go to the ruling coalition partners, who have been bickering throughout their one year in power. The coalition's internal feud worsened after they could manage just one each of Karnataka's 28 seats in the national election, leaving the rest for the BJP.
"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," Congress spokesperson KE Radhakrishna told PTI.
Mr Radhakrishna said the plane was kept ready at Bengaluru's HAL Airport to fly the dissident legislators out as soon as they came out of the Governor's house after submitting their resignation.
The Congress leader alleged that the "conspiracy" to bring down the government was planned a week earlier, when rebel JDS legislator AH Vishwanath went to Delhi and met BJP leaders.