Ahmedabad: With three more of its MLAs resigning from the Gujarat assembly and threat of more desertions looming large, a rattled Congress dispatched a plane-load of its MLAs to party-ruled Karnataka, to fend off more poaching attempts.
Three have joined the BJP, in what is seen as an elaborate plan scripted by veteran politician Shankarsinh Vaghela to stall the return of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha in elections next week.
As per sources, 40 Congress MLAs landed at Kempegowda airport late on Friday evening and were spirited to a nearby resort.
The panic response was triggered by the resignations of three more party MLAs, taking the number of MLAs who have quit the party in the last 24 hours to six.
The Congress has already been reduced to 51 MLAs in the 182-seat Assembly.
Elections will be held on August 8 for three Rajya Sabha seats. While the BJP, which has a big majority in the state assembly, has fielded its party chief Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani for the two seats it can easily win, the Congress has renominated Ahmed Patel, who is political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, for the third seat. The resignations jeopardise his election.