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Karnataka: Flights grounded, Congress, JD(S) bus MLAs out of state | India News

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BENGALURU: Congress and JD(S) were forced to bus their newly elected MLAs to destinations in neighbouring states late on Thursday after charter flights that were scheduled to fly them out from HAL Airport were denied permission to take off.

Congress MLAs alleged the Director General of Civil Aviation sent out “unofficial” word to the airport to ground the planes. “DGCA is an autonomous body which cannot be questioned. By manoeuvring resources at its disposal, BJP has caged us in the state without explaining why the planes are not being allowed to take off,” said an MLA.

However, a senior aviation ministry official denied the charge. “DGCA permission is not required for charter operations within India. Saying the aviation authorities did not allow the flight to operate is not correct,” he said. JD(S) MLC Ramesh Babu attacked the Centre and the PM for “misusing” government machinery.

Congress sources claimed that the MLAs had to be taken out of Karnataka after authorities earlier in the day removed the security cover to Eagleton Resort in Bidadi, 30km from Bengaluru, where the legislators had been corralled since Wednesday evening.

Congress’ D K Shivakumar, an experienced hand in resort politics, had been tasked with the responsibility of keeping the flock together. The combine’s think-tank had four people managing the group, the other three being Shamanur Shivashankarappa (mandated with keeping the Lingayat MLAs within the fold), B Z Zameer Ahmed and Satish Jarkiholi. “With flights being grounded and security cover withdrawn, there is literally no cover for us MLAs who are a target for the BJP. This is like straight out of the movies,” said a Congress legislator.

In Kochi, 100 rooms have been booked in Crowne Plaza and Brunton Boatyard for the Congress leaders.

Incidentally, on Tuesday, soon after the verdict, the tourism department of Left-ruled Kerala had tweeted: “After the rough and tumble of the #KarnatakaVerdict, we invite all the MLAs to unwind at the safe & beautiful resorts of God’s Own Country.”

Earlier, the mood inside Eagleton and Shangrila remained tense throughout Thursday. The resort was in the news in 2017 when Gujarat Congress MLAs camped there as Congress feared defection of its members ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

The camaraderie between Congress and JD(S) leaders was visible at the protest site in Vidhana Soudha with senior leaders of the two parties exchanging pleasantries. Sources said Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia spoke to Deve Gowda during the day.

Updated: May 17, 2018 — 6:42 pm

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