Bengaluru: As the battle for representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha rakes up, the Congress on Monday moved at least 14 Independent MLAs from the state to a five-star hotel in Mumbai.
As per the report, the confinement of MLAs has been done until Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections are held in the state. Congress is said to fear horse trading ahead of Rajya Sabha polls and thus in a bid to stop poaching of lawmakers, the party moved 14 Independent MLas to Marriot Hotel in Mumbai.
The move has come at a time when Election Commission is set to take cognisance of 'cash-for-votes sting' case, that allegedly showed MLAs negotiating for their votes.
Reacting to the charges of horse-trading, senior Congress leader Veeranna Mathikatti told News18 that the party did not corral the Independent MLAs. "The MLAs wanted protection from horse trading and therefore, they came to us with their support. The BJP has no moral right to make allegations against us. There is no exchange of money. Congress has not paid any money."
A Karnataka BJP leader has called the move as 'disgraceful' accusing Congress of engaging in the shameful act to keep its house in order.
The Congress is trying to gather support to get its three candidates elected to the Upper House from the state, however, the party is said to lack the required numbers.
"The Election Commission of India has received queries on the alleged sting operations by some channels related to the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka. In this regard, the commission has asked Karnataka`s Chief Electoral Officer to provide a report on the facts of the matter," the EC said.
A Congress delegation will be meeting the Election Commission at 12:30 pm today.
On Thursday, a 31-minute sting operation, conducted by Times Now over a week, with interviews and quotes from senior politicians, lawmakers, ministers and two candidates contesting the Rajya Sabha polls, allegedly exposed how votes can be "purchased" through favours in the guise of development.
The footage, recorded with open or hidden cameras, has the former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, his younger son and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, state cabinet minister D.K. Shivakumar, Congress lawmaker N.A. Harris, Congress nominee K.C. Ramamurthy, JD-S nominee B.M. Farooq and Independents Varthur Prakash, Ashok Kheny and Mankal Vaidya.
Though the expose does not show any cash being offered or exchanged, it claims to reveal that the Congress will give crores of rupees for the development of constituencies represented by Independents across the state.
Meanwhile, a few legislators, mostly from smaller parties, were shown talking about exchange of money in lieu of support in the coming Rajya Sabha elections in a sting aired by India Today TV channel on Thursday.
The sting pertained to two legislators from Janata Dal-Secular, one from the Karnataka Janata Paksha and an Independent.