Bengaluru: After its six MLAs deserted ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, a wary Congress has lodged its 44 Gujarat legislators at a private resort on the outskirts of Bangalore, saying it is “protecting” them from the BJPs “hooliganism”.
Ashok Gehlot, the Congress general secretary in-charge for Gujarat, defended the partys action and repeated the allegations that the BJP was using money, muscle and state power to force party MLAs in Gujarat to quit.
“They (MLAs) were picked up, harassed, threatened and forced to quit. The way the state machinery, the police are being misused (in Gujarat), why cant we then bring them at one place to protect them from the hooliganism and anti-social activities there,” he said.
Bengaluru Rural MP D K Suresh, who is overseeing the arrangements, however, said that the leaders from Gujarat “have come to our state for rest and tourist purpose and we are stationed here to facilitate it”.
The MLAs wish to visit some tourist destinations and religious places, he said, adding “they want to seek the Almightys blessing to save Gujarat and democracy.”
Police personnel have been deployed around the resort for security.
The Congress is keen to fend off alleged “poaching” attempts by the BJP ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.
Though there is no clarity about exact number of MLAs at the resort, Gujarat Congress General secretary Nishit Vyas, who is with the legislators here, earlier today told PTI that the party has shifted 44 of its MLAs to Bengaluru.
“It was for the safety and security of the MLAs who are being threatened if they do not agree to switch sides… that is why we decided to bring them to Bengaluru,” he said.
Not wishing to specify the number of Gujarat legislators at the resort, Suresh, in response to a question, said “all our party legislators are there”.
Of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat, from where Sonia Gandhis political secretary Ahmed Patel is contesting for Rajya Sabha, six have resigned from the party in the last two days with three of them joining the BJP yesterday.
The party has apprehensions about Patels election to the Rajya Sabha, if more MLAs defect.
The BJP has denied the Congress allegations and said it cannot be blamed if Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul are unable to hold the crumbling organisation.
The Congress sources said MLAs are likely to travel to some tourist destinations in the state and also to Tirupati.
Suresh said the legislators tour schedule would be finalised later, as they have come early today and are taking rest.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah declined to comment on Gujarat MLAs being lodged at a resort outside the city, saying he has no information about it.