The 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who were sent to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent them from defecting to the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, returned to Gujarat early on Monday after a nine-day stay.
The legislators, who will take part in the voting process for three Rajya Sabha seats on Tuesday, landed at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) Airport in Ahmedabad and were immediately taken to another resort located in Anand district amid heavy security arrangements.
Two buses belonging to private travel companies were parked near the domestic arrival area of the airport before the MLAs' arrival. The MLAs were then escorted to the buses by police personnel after which they departed for Nijanand resort located on the Borsad-Anand highway.
"A deputy commissioner of police, four assistant commissioners of police, four police inspectors and 95 armed police personnel escorted the 44 Congress MLAs to the resort in Anand district," DCP Parikshita Gurjar was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
"Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel will meet the MLAs at the resort on Monday evening," Shailesh Parmar, chief whip of the party in Gujarat Assembly, told ANI. Patel had earlier told the agency that the party was "confident of victory" in the polls as "all MLAs are with us".
The Gujarat Congress had sent 44 MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent them from defecting to the BJP after six of their legislators quit the party last month with three of them joining the BJP. The Congress blamed former leader Shankersinh Vaghela of being the alleged mastermind after the party refused to project him as its chief ministerial candidate.
The resignation of the six MLAs from the Congress has jeopardised the election of Patel, who has already served four terms in the Rajya Sabha. BJP had fielded Vaghela's relative, Balwantsinh Rajput, as its candidate against Patel hours after Rajput joined the BJP.
During their stay, the Income Tax Department had conducted raids on Karnataka Minister DK Shivakumar at Eagleton Golf Resort and also at his residences in Bengaluru's Sadashiv Nagar and New Delhi's Safdarjung Enclave. Shivakumar was in-charge of hospitality for the Gujarat Congress MLAs in Bengaluru.
Shivakumar's farmhouse in Kanakapura and the homes of his close relatives were also raided by around 40 I-T officials under the protection of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Nearly 70 properties belonging to Shivakumar, his relatives and associates were searched in the four-day long raids.