44 Gujarat MLAs return from Karnataka
Forty-four Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who were flown to Karnataka to prevent "poaching" by the BJP ahead of Tuesday's Rajya Sabha elections, returned to the state on Monday, officials said.
The MLAs were moved to a private resort near Bengaluru on July 29 following the resignation of six Congress legislators.
Of the 57 party legislators in the 182-member Gujarat assembly, six quit the party on July 26 and three of them joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on July 28. Of the BJP's remaining 51 MLAs, seven did not join those who came to Bengaluru.
The 44 MLAs are being lodged at the Nijanand Resort near Anand. Their family members will visit the resort for the Raksha Bandhan festival on Monday.
On Tuesday, the legislators will directly go to state capital Gandhinagar to vote for the party's Rajya Sabha nominee Ahmed Patel.
Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, is seeking a fifth consecutive term.
Karnataka Minister D.K. Shivakumar was at the airport when the Congress legislators took a budget carrier after a week-long stay at a private resort near here.
"As all of us are united. The BJP cannot threaten any of our MLAs. Horse trading is not possible with those who are with us," party's lawmaker Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters outside the airport before leaving for Ahmedabad.
During the legislators' stay at the Eagleton Golf Resort at Bidadi, about 40 km from Bengaluru, the Income Tax Department raided a deluxe suite where Shivakumar was staying as their host, in connection with the alleged tax evasion and amassing of wealth or assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
The officials did not raid the Gujarat MLAs but whisked away Shivakumar to his bungalow in the city for questioning him following the seizure of documents, cash, jewellery and property records made in his house.
Searches and seizures were also conducted at the Energy Minister's house at Kanakapura and his rented apartment in New Delhi, at the residences of his brother D.K. Suresh at Ramanagara in the adjacent Bengaluru Rural district, and his relatives and friends at Mysuru and Hassan in the state till August 6.