Where is Anand Singh, the “Missing Congress MLA” ?

As Congress begins to rejoice over the Supreme Court order for floor test on Saturday, the party has another yet another tension to tend to. Congress MLA BS Anand Singh has been reported as missing. Singh, who had joined the Congress in January earlier this year, was with the BJP before this. Now that he has gone incommunicado, speculations are rife that Singh has gone back to the BJP, which is trying to shore up its numbers ahead of the confidence motion.

The MLA-elect from Vijayanagara in Ballari district was nowhere to be seen as Congress leaders met for a legislative party meeting on Wednesday. He was missing when Congress leaders herded their MLAs to Eagleton Resort in Bidadi later the same day, and further, he was also missing from the protest launched by Congress and JD(S) leaders at Vidhana Soudha on Thursday.

The uncertainty surrounding his whereabouts were further fuelled by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah alleging that Singh has been “kidnapped” by the central government.

Siddaramaiah’s claims have raised fresh doubts about where Anand Singh is and what his role in the impending floor test will be.

Anand Singh, a known turncoat, jumped ship to the Congress from the BJP only in January 2018. He was previously Tourism Minister in the BJP government that ruled the state from 2008-2013.

He is a noted businessman in Ballari district, with interests in mining and the hospitality sector. He was once closely associated with infamous mining baron Janardhana Reddy and was arrested twice for his involvement in the 2009 Ballari mining scam, that rocked the then BJP government in power. However, since his switch to the Congress, he has become a divisive figure in his home district.

He was unpopular with Congress leaders in the district as it flew in the face of their campaign against the mining scam. Anand’s name was one of the first names to come up when the issue of the infamous mining scam was raised against BJP leaders in the region. “What about Congress leaders Anand Singh, Nagendra and Anil Lad?” asked B Sriramulu, another close aide of Janardhana Reddy and an influential BJP leader in the region.

Anand, along with Anil Lad and B Nagendra, were fielded by the Congress in Ballari district in spite of being charged for their involvement in the mining scam. Senior Congress leaders now fear that they will turn to their  former party-mates and could also influence other leaders in the region to defect to the BJP due to the influence wielded by Janardhana Reddy and B Sriramulu in the region.

“We know who has spoken to whom. Who Reddy has spoken to, who Sriramulu has spoken to. We will reveal all the details after the floor test,” said Siddaramaiah in a press conference on Friday. However, Siddaramaiah was quick to add that Congress leaders were in touch with Anand and were confident of his support in their joint bid to form the government along with the JD(S).