Claiming that the threat to the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state continued to persist, Congress MLAs from Karnataka were herded into buses and taken to the Eagleton Resort in Ramanagara district on Friday evening.
The decision to move the MLAs to the resort was taken by the party's state leadership at the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting at Vidhana Soudha on Friday.
The CLP meeting included all MLAs, MPs and MLCs from the state. "We will be together until it is necessary. We are not afraid of any operation by the BJP but we are taking precautions", said Siddaramaiah, former Chief Minister and Head of the Coalition Coordination Committee.
"The decision has been taken to counter the BJP's attempts to take power in the state. We will also be discussing issues with our MLAs ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections", Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Dinesh Gundu Rao said.
All 104 BJP MLAs are staying at a resort in Gurgaon since Monday.
76 out of 80 MLAs (including the Speaker) from the Congress party attended the meeting. The four missing MLAs were identified as Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani), Umesh Jadhav (Chincholi) and B Nagendra ( Ballari Rural), all four did not turn up for the meeting. Siddaramaiah said that Umesh had written to the party leadership saying that he would not be able to attend the meeting due to health problems while Nagendra cited a court commitment as the reason for his absence. B Nagendra, is an accused with the Belekeri Port illegal iron export scam in which 3.5 million tonnes of seized iron ore was exported illegally from Belekeri Port in Karnataka‚Äôs Uttara Kannada district between 2006-07 and 2010-11.
"I am issuing notices to these absentees and I will seek their explanation. After their explanation is recorded, we will decide the next course of action", Siddaramaiah said.
A source at the meeting however confirmed to TNM that more than 4 Congress MLAs have given a commitment to the BJP and the decision to take MLAs to resorts is to resolve the issues with these MLAs. "At least 8 MLAs have given a commitment to the BJP and the party leadership wants to ensure that these leaders do not jump ship", said the source.
However, several party MLAs who were reportedly disgruntled including Anand Singh, Pratapgouda Patil, and JH Ganesh attended the emergency meeting convened by the party. "The BJP promised money and ministerial positions to several MLAs in our party to (CS) Shivalli , (S) Ramappa, Anjali (Nimbalkar). They do not know that anti-defection law is stringent", Siddaramaiah added. He further criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for a lack of faith in democracy and the Constitution. "What were 104 MLAs doing in a 7-star hotel in Gurgaon? It was a plan by Modi and Shah to remove the coalition government in the state. Central leaders were also involved", Siddaramaiah added.
The focus now shifts to the Eagleton Resort in Bidadi, Ramanagara as the Congress party attempts to quell the threat against the coalition government in the state for good.