Following three Gujarat Congrss MLAs jumping ship to the BJP on Thursday, the Congress party, in the wee hours of Saturday, sent its MLAs from Gujarat to Bengaluru to avoid poaching attempts by other parties.
As three MLAs resigned from the Gujarat assembly on Friday, the threat of defection loomed large in the Congress party.
According to a member of the Congress with knowledge about the MLAsâ€™ arrival, 44 Congress MLAs landed at Kempegowda International Airport around 2 am on Saturday. These Congressmen were immediately packed off to a nearby resort by Energy Minister DK Shiva Kumar, who is known to be a crisis management expert.
The panic was created after three party MLAs quit on Friday, taking the number of defections to six. As the grand old party suspected that more MLAs were planning to quit, the party managers decided to lodge them in Congress stronghold â€“ Karnataka.
According to the source, the MLAs will return to Gandhinagar on August 8, right before the polling begins.
Senior MLAs like Shaktisinh Gohil and Shailesh Parmar, however, remained in Gujarat. The Congress MLAs who resigned on Fridaywere Chhanabhai Choudhary, Mansinh Chauhan and Ramsinh Parmar, the Chairman of Amul Dairy.
The source said that a sense of panic was created when the party receive information that three more MLAs were planning to quit on Saturday, following with, more resignations would ensue.
â€śThis will not bode well for the Rajya Sabha elections and ruin chances of Congress Candidate, Ahmed Patelâ€™s chances and hence it was decided that the MLAs will remain in Bengaluru,â€ť he added.
The polls are of import to the Congress as Ahmed Patel is a close aide of Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi and a setback in the Rajya Sabha elections would only reduce the morale of the Congress members, Times of India reported.
In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, 57 were Congress members, until the MLA exodus began on Thursday, reducing the partyâ€™s strength to 51.
According to the source, after the MLAs began resigning, the high command tried to get in touch with some of the leaders and their phones were switched off and getting in touch with them proved difficult.
Panicked by this, the high command rounded up 44 MLAs and sent them packing to Bengaluru.
According to the TOI, if all 182 MLAs were to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections, any candidate getting 46 votes stands to win. However, due to the exodus, this figure is likely to disrupt chances for the Congress, creating an additional opening for the BJP to step in.
â€śThe BJP can now have another candidate - Congress rebel - Balwantsingh Rajput, apart from Amit Shah and Smriti Irani. This is why the leaders were brought to Bengaluru,â€ť the source added.