A group of Maharashtra MLAs -- from the ruling Shiv Sena as well as some Independents -- were seen boarding a luxury bus for an unknown resort this evening following a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Elections are due on six Rajya Sabha seats from Maharashtra on June 10 and the removal of the MLAs are seen as a sign of concern about horse trading by the BJP ahead of the elections.
Sources in Mumbai said the Chief Minister held a meeting today with some Independent MLAs as well as MLAs from the party.
Later in the evening, the two buses were seen parked opposite Sahyadri Guest House -- the official guest house of the government of Maharashtra. There was a buzz that the MLAs will be taken to Hotel Retreat in Malad, located in the western suburbs of Mumbai.
For the six seats up for grabs in the state, the BJP has fielded three candidates. In the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) camp, the Congress and Sharad Pawar's NCP have fielded one candidate each, and the Shiv Sena two.
The big contest will be for the sixth seat, with the BJP rejecting the MVA offer for an additional seat to avoid elections. The face-off will be between the BJP's Dhananjay Mahadik and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Pawar.
The NCP has already gone to court, seeking permission for two of its jailed MLAs -- Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik -- to vote in the election. Mr Malik has also sought a one-day bail to vote in the election.
The MVA has called a meeting of its MLAs in Mumbai on June 7.
The BJP, which has 106 members in the House, has nominated Union minister Piyush Goyal, Anil Bonde and Dhananjay Mahadik.
The NCP has re-nominated former Union minister Praful Patel, while the Congress has fielded Imran Pratapgarhi. Sanjay Raut and Sanjay Pawar are nominees of the Shiv Sena.