- Karnataka Congress filed complaint that Shrimant Patil had been abducted
- The Congress lawmaker later said no one has kidnapped him
- He was spotted at a Mumbai hospital, where he complained of chest pain
In a cloak-and-dagger exit worthy of the movies, Karnataka Congress lawmaker Shrimant Patil vanished from a resort near Bengaluru, where he had been staying with party colleagues, and resurfaced on a stretcher in Mumbai. "No one has kidnapped me," Mr Patil said in a video message uploaded on social media after the Karnataka Congress filed a complaint with the Bengaluru Police claiming he had been abducted.
Shrimant Patil was spotted at a Mumbai hospital, where he complained of chest pain. He also wrote to the Speaker about his poor health.
"I will return to Bengaluru once I recover... I went to Chennai for some personal work and felt chest pain, so I visited a hospital and on medical advice, I came to Mumbai and got myself admitted here," he said.
His "escape" is a huge blow for the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition, which is 18 down and looks set to lose a trust vote it faces any time now.
Amid chaos in the Karnataka assembly over one more rebel managing to reach Mumbai, which has become the base of dissident lawmakers quitting the coalition, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar asked for a detailed report from Home Minister MB Patil.
Congress lawmakers in the house waved photos, apparently of Shrimant Patil, lying on a stretcher with tubes attached.
The situation "does not look natural", the Speaker noted.
"What kind of a Speaker I would be if I proceed with this document (Shrimant Patil's letter) which has no date or letterhead," Mr Kumar said, questioning whether doctors or hospitals were not available in Bengaluru.
"Please contact the family members of Shrimant Patil immediately. Give a detailed report to me by tomorrow. Ask them if they know anything about this. Has he had a medical problem in the past or is it the first time. It does not look natural. If Home Minister can't ensure protection, I will talk to (the police chief)," the Speaker said.
Till Wednesday, Shrimant Patil had been staying with other Congress legislators at the Windflower Prakruthi Resort in Bengaluru. He slipped out with "eight MLAs", said Congress leader DK Shivakumar in the house.
"There were 8 MLAs who travelled together. Here is a picture of one of them lying inert on a stretcher, where are these people? I'm asking the Speaker to protect our MLAs," Shivakumar said.
Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao accused the BJP of plotting a "conspiracy" in which Mr Patil was flown to Chennai and then to Mumbai.
"There was a hospital right next to the resort where our MLAs are staying. Then why was he flown to Chennai and then to Mumbai for treatment? He is healthy, nothing is wrong with him. It's a conspiracy by BJP," he said.