Scared of poaching of its MLAs, COngress shifts them to Bengaluru

New Delhi: In a move to guard its MLAs in Gujarat from being "poached" by the BJP ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in that state, the Congress leadership has "shifted" them to Bengaluru.

According to party sources, the legislators flew to the capital of Karnataka, a Congress-ruled state, yesterday night itself. "Looking at the current situation (in Gujarat), where attempts are being made to lure our members, we are taking 46 of our MLAs to Bengaluru tonight," said a senior party leader on Friday, requesting anonymity.

Forty-four Congress MLAs from Gujarat have been lodged at a private resort near here after they landed from Ahmedabad on Saturday morning, a party official said. "All our Gujarat MLAs have been put up at the Eagleton Golf Resort in Bidadi on the Mysuru road after they flew into the city in two batches from Ahmedabad via Mumbai," the party's state unit's official said on anonymity. The resort is located in the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, represented by Congress lawmaker D.K. Suresh, younger brother of Karnataka Power Minister D.K. Shivakumar. "Our party's high command in Delhi directed us on Friday night to look after them during their stay in the state," the official said. The lawmakers were shifted, ostensibly to prevent its rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from poaching them ahead of the Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat on August 8 in which its senior leader Ahmed Patel is contesting for a fifth term. "We don't have details on their programme and how long they will stay here. We have been told to take care of them," added the official. Jolted by the exit of six of its lawmakers since Thursday, the party decided to shift 44 of its remaining 51 MLAs in the 182-set Gujarat Assembly to the city and prevent them from defecting to the BJP, the ruling party in the western state. "What they did in Goa, Manipur and in Bihar, they are trying to do the same in Gujarat. Our legislators are being threatened or offered money. People like an IPS officer who was behind bars for 8-9 years in a fake encounter case are being used to kidnap our MLAs, offer money or threaten our legislators. There is insecurity and environment of terror. So our legislators are being moved to safety," Arjun Modhvadia, senior Congress leader, told reporters at Ahmedabad airport before leaving on Friday night. Patel, political secretary to party President Sonia Gandhi filed his nomination in Ahmedabad on July 26.  He needs 47 preference voters in the first round for re-election.

News24Bureau with Agencies