Karnataka Congress MP claims Gujarat MLAs in Bengaluru to visit temples

They flew to the Congress-ruled state amid a string of desertions by party legislators in Gujarat ahead of Rajya Sabha election

india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 15:47 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Gujarat Congress,Sonia Gandhi,Ahmed Patel
Congress’s chief whip in the Gujarat assembly Shailesh Parmar says 44 party legislators have flown together to Bengaluru. (ANI/ Twitter )

Ruling Karnataka Congress on Saturday claimed around 40 party MLAs from Gujarat came to Bengaluru on a pilgrimage, amid reports that they were whisked to the state to prevent their “poaching” by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha election.

Congress MP D K Suresh claimed the MLAs, who flew in earlier in the day, came to visit some temples.

“They want to visit some temples. In the evening, they will let us know the places where they want to go. Accordingly, we will make suitable arrangements for them,” he told reporters outside Eagleton Golf Village resort on the outskirts of the city.

The group checked-in at the resort amid a string of desertions by the Congress legislators in the western state, where Ahmed Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, is seeking a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha.

Suresh did not confirm the number of visitors, but sources said 40 MLAs and three senior Congress leaders have arrived. But Congress’s chief whip in Gujarat assembly Shailesh Parmar told reporters in Ahmedabad 44 legislators had flown together to Bengaluru.

On extending help to the visitors, Suresh said he was not under instruction from the party’s high command to “entertain” the leaders from Gujarat.

“I’m doing so in my personal capacity,” he added.

On the choice of the resort, Suresh said Ramanagara district, where the resort is located, was opted because of its history. “After all Sholay (Bollywood blockbuster) was shot here,” Suresh said.

He did not also reveal how long the leaders would stay in Karnataka. “Whenever they want to leave, we will make the necessary arrangements.”

According to reports, they will stay at the resort until polling on August 8.

Six MLAs have resigned from the Congress in the last two days, reducing the party’s strength in the Gujarat assembly to 51.

“The Congress MLAs have been threatened, coerced and bribed by the BJP in Gujarat. They are no longer feeling safe here. So they have decided to go out of the state”, said Gujarat’s senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia.

Patel will need votes of 45 lawmakers to romp home as the strength of the house dropped to 176 after the resignation of six MLAs. Besides its own legislators, the Congress hopes to get support from two NCP lawmakers.

The party fear more desertions as 11 party MLAs had ostensibly cross-voted for the BJP-led NDA candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, in the July 17 presidential election.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 15:47 IST