3 Buses On All-Night Journey As Karnataka Lawmakers ‘Escape’ To Hyderabad

Amid poaching fears, the Congress and JDS lawmakers in Karnataka shifted to neighbouring Telangana

Bengaluru, Karnataka:  Three buses started from Bengaluru around 12.30 am on Thursday night and zoomed down the highway in scenes straight out of a thriller. On board were around 116 Karnataka lawmakers – from the Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) – being driven to Hyderabad under secrecy – as much as they could manage with a media team chasing them.

Unlike action stars, however, the lawmakers needed breaks, plenty of them, after a day of non-stop political developments. The hide-and-seek started shortly after BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in, a short, truncated ceremony that followed a night-long Supreme Court hearing in which judges allowed the oath ceremony but raised questions about the 15-day period given by Governor Vajubhai Vala for a test of strength.

The BJP is eight short of the majority mark. The Congress-JDS hopes that the time will be drastically cut short by the Supreme Court today.

To keep their lawmakers from inducements, offers and threats from the BJP – as they allege – the Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) had planned chartered flights out of Bengaluru.

eagleton golf resort

Earlier, the Congress MLAs were sequestered at Eagleton resort in Bengaluru

Around 11.30 pm, however, the flights were cancelled. “We didn’t get permission…The airline operators refused,” said Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who organized the bus trip to Hyderabad.

About an hour later, the buses drove out of Eagleton, a private resort in Bengaluru where the Congress lawmakers had been put up, and Shangri-La, a luxury hotel where the JDS legislators had been staying.

Mid-way, the lawmakers switched buses, apparently for security. One of the buses offers a sleeper coach. Water, blankets, foods, everything was arranged on the fly.

A journey of 500 km took eight hours.

Around 5 am, as the lawmakers stopped for a tea or coffee break about 80 km from Hyderabad, Congress leader Madhu Goud Yashki spoke to NDTV.

“How shamelessly the BJP is asking MLAs…there is an anti-defection law. And JDS-Congress have clear numbers. But the BJP is openly poaching. And shamelessly the PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) supports it. They are acting like criminals,” Madhu Goud Yashki said.

He alleged that Congress lawmaker Anand Singh had been “kidnapped” on his way to Bengaluru yesterday and family members of legislators were being threatened.  The Congress has advised all its lawmakers to install and app that helps track and record phone-calls.

A plan to move the lawmakers to Kochi in Kerala also failed. “In Kochi we were told no rooms are available. We were told the BJP leadership is putting pressure on hotels and flights,” said Mr Yashki.

“Hyderabad is the place we will protect democracy.”

The Congress refused to reveal where the lawmakers would finally check in.

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