Raipur: The MLAs of the ruling UPA coalition in Jharkhand on Tuesday arrived in Raipur by a chartered flight in a bid to thwart the BJP's possible attempt to poach them, and moved into a nearby luxurious resort.
The flight carrying about 40 MLAs took off from the Ranchi airport shortly after 4.30 pm and arrived at Swami Vivekananda Airport in Raipur, the capital of the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, around 5:30 pm.
Three buses took them to Mayfair Lake resort in Nava Raipur, said a local Congress leader.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren did not accompany them, he added.
The buses carrying the Jharkhand MLAs were escorted by pilot vehicles on the way to the resort, located around 10 km from the airport.
The ruling UPA coalition has 49 MLAs in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly.
Security was tightened around the resort and mediapersons were not allowed inside.
News channels showed a convoy of vehicles of VIPs and police entering the resort ahead of the arrival of the Jharkhand MLAs.
Some senior state Congress leaders too were reported to have reached there to welcome the MLAs.
This is for the third time in the last one-and-a-half years that MLAs of Congress and its allies have been shifted to Raipur amid fears of poaching by the BJP.
In June, fearing cross-voting in Rajya Sabha election, the main opposition Congress in Haryana had shifted its MLAs to Raipur to protect them from alleged poaching bid.
Candidates of the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), a member of the Congress-led grand alliance during the last year's Assam Assembly polls, were brought to Raipur in April 2021 ahead of counting of votes.
Jharkhand chief minister Soren’s JMM believes that the BJP may make a serious attempt to poach MLAs from the party and also from the ally Congress in a bid to topple the government in a manner “similar to Maharashtra” and there is a need to ringfence the legislators in a “safe haven.” Following a petition by the BJP seeking Soren’s disqualification from the Assembly in an office of profit case, the Election Commission sent its decision to state Governor Ramesh Bais on August 25.
Though the EC’s decision has not yet been made official, there is a buzz that the poll panel has recommended the chief minister’s disqualification as an MLA.
In a joint statement on August 28, UPA constituents – the JMM, Congress and the RJD – had accused the governor of encouraging political horse-trading by "deliberately delaying" announcing the decision.
A meeting of the Jharkhand cabinet is scheduled on September 1 at 4 pm.
The JMM, the largest party, has 30 MLAs, the Congress 18 legislators, and the RJD one. The main opposition BJP has 26 MLAs in the House.