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Fearing poaching by BJP, Congress flies 44 Gujarat MLAs to Bengaluru resort

Move comes after six of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat have resigned since Thursday

IANS  |  Bengaluru 

Congress MLAs
Visuals from outside Bengaluru's Eagleton resort where Gujarat Congress MLAs have been lodged. Photo: Twitter (@ANI_news)

After losing six legislators, the Congress has kept 44 of its MLAs from Gujarat at a private resort near here, to prevent further poaching by the BJP ahead of the August 8 elections. But the MLAs, who were flown from Ahmedabad on Saturday morning, are getting "restive" with their mobiles taken away and jammers installed, party sources said.

Of the 44 Gujarat Congress lawmakers staying at Eagleton Golf Resort at Bidadi, about 30km from Bengaluru, at least a dozen were reported to be "restive", complaining they were cut off from their people and constituencies, the party source said.

"We have been brought and kept here against our will. We want to go back to our constituencies as they are flood-hit and our people are affected," one of the legislators was heard telling their manager Naresh Rawal in Gujarati," a party spokesperson told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
 

The Eagleton Golf Resort, where the legislators are lodged in 35 deluxe rooms, has been turned into a fortress, with heavy security and 24x7 surveillance.

"We have no access to our people, as our cell phones were taken away soon after we came here. Some who still have mobiles are unable to contact their people due to jammers installed at the resort," another lawmaker grumbled.

Party's Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha member D.K. Suresh, who is looking after the needs of the lawmakers, however, told reporters that they (Gujarat MLAs) came to Bengaluru on their own and would stay as long as they wish to.

"They are happy to be in the resort and enjoying the weather. We are planning to take them to some temples and tourist spots in the state over the next few days," hinted Suresh.

Suresh is waiting for the return of his elder brother and Karnataka Power Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who is in Singapore on an official visit.

Shivakumar is the ruling party's lawmaker from the Kanakapura assembly segment, in which the luxury resort is located.

As some more party MLAs from Gujarat were expected to reach here on Saturday night or Sunday, there is a move to shift all of them to Mysuru, about 120 km away, for a week-long stay before they return to Ahmedabad on August 7 for the crucial by-poll on August 8 in which Congress President Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel is seeking a fifth term from the western state.
 

The party high command shifted the MLAs to avoid them being poached on by the rival BJP to defect ahead of the poll, after six of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat resigned since Thursday.

Ironically, the ruling BJP in Gujarat has fielded Balwantsinh Rajput, who quit the Congress, to contest against Patel.

BJP President Amit Shah and Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani are the two other candidates in the fray for four of the 11 seats from the state and for which poll is being held.

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