Stunned by the shifting of half a dozen party legislators, the Congress on Friday late night moved 44 legislators from Gujarat to Karnataka to ensure that no more defection takes place before the crucial Rajya Sabha contest involving party veteran Ahmed Patel.
"We are shifting our legislators to protect them from BJP's money and muscle power," Congress legislator Shailesh Parmar said as MLAs were being taken to Ahmedabad airport to take a Bengaluru flight on Friday.
Sources in the Karnataka Congress unit said the party legislators were staying at Eagleton Resorts at Bidadi, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
A senior Minister in the Siddaramaiah government and the State Congress leaders have made all arrangements at the resort for a comfortable stay for the legislators. As soon as they arrived, they were transported in a bus to the resort.
The MLAs would leave Bengaluru a day before the elections to the Rajya Sabha on August 8.
"The BJP is using money and muscle power and also misusing the government machinery to poach our members in the run-up to the Rajya Sabha polls," Mr. Parmar said.
In the last two days, as many as six legislators of the party have resigned while 6-7 more are likely to follow suit in the next few days.
To take on the most trusted aide of the Nehru-Gandhi family Ahmed Patel, the BJP has fielded ex- Congress legislator Balwantsinh Rajput, once Mr. Patel's protege.
Mr. Rajput is a third candidate for the Rajya Sabha from the State.
Other two candidates of the BJP are party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.