Congress MLAs in Bengaluru resort will be flown back to Gujarat on Monday
Denying the reports that the MLAs would first be flown to Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi, Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters they would be returning to Gujarat “directly”.Updated: Aug 06, 2017, 20:10 IST
The 44 Congress legislators from Gujarat staying at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru since the last nine days are set to leave for their home state on Monday, according to sources.
The legislators were flown to the Karnataka capital to keep them safe from alleged poaching attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections on August 8. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is the party nominee for the polls to the Upper House.
“The legislators will be flown back in two batches and will move to a resort in Anand,” said a source privy to the plan.
Following the resignation of six of its 57 MLAs in Gujarat, the Congress moved 44 legislators to Bengaluru on July 29. At least half-a-dozen of the remaining legislators are reportedly loyalists of Shankersinh Vaghela, a former chief minister recently expelled from the party. Patel, the political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, needs the support of 45 MLAs to be re-elected and the Congress is doing everything it can to keep its flock together.
Confirming the return plan, Mohansinh Rathwa, nine-time MLA from Chhota Udaipur, said the he and his colleagues were grateful to the people of Karnataka.”The people here have been very hospitable towards us and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Denying the reports that the MLAs would first be flown to Delhi to meet Sonia, Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters they would be returning to Gujarat “directly”.
Rathwa said Patel’s victory was a certainty. “He will sail through in the elections.”
The legislators’ stay in the resort has not been free of controversy, especially because of the floods Gujarat faced. A birthday party held for an MLA’s son too attracted criticism.
For the legislators, the stay was far from convenient. A Gujarati chef had to be arranged after MLAs showed signs of being homesick.
However, their stay gave the Congress a chance to teach the legislators about the party’s ideology. Two persons from the Jawaharlal Nehru Leadership Institute, which is run by the All India Congress Committee, were sent to the resort as part of the party’s efforts to make the legislators aware of the party’s achievements.
Meanwhile, the legislators’ host, Karnataka energy minister DK Shivakumar, faced income-tax department raids, which the Congress claimed was done at the behest of the BJP’s national leadership as an act of political vendetta.
The legislators had been kept under strict watch inside the resort and were only allowed a trip outside on Saturday, when they visited state Governor Vajubhai Vala, a former BJP minister from Gujarat, and also the Vidhan Soudha.