Bangalore: The ruling BJP on Wednesday ferried its legislators to a private resort on the city outskirts fearing poaching from opposition parties during Thursday’s bypoll to the lone legislative council seat which Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has to win to continue in the post.

BJP sources said all the MLAs will return to the city on Thursday and head towards Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat for voting, which is done through secret ballot.

In the run up to the bye-election, Gowda had declared that he would not resort to "resort politics".

Gowda is facing a straight contest from Congress nominee Anand Gaddadevaramut, who hails from the Lingayat community.

JDS, the third largest legislature group, has stayed away from the contest.

BJP has the support of 121 MLAs including Speaker K G Bopaiah and an independent Varthur Prakash, who has already been rewarded with a ministerial berth for supporting the government.

In the 225-member Assembly, which includes a nominated member, Congress has 71, JDS 26 and Independents seven.

In the numbers game, the ruling BJP is well placed and set to win the seat, caused by the resignation of N Shankarappa, whom the party asked to vacate to facilitate Gowda, who is not a member of either House, to get elected to the state legislature.

Gowda, the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency MP, assumed the office of the Chief Minister on August 4 after BJP asked B S Yeddyurappa to step down in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.

He has to get elected from either House of the legislature within six months of swearing-in to continue in his posts as per constitutional norms.

BJP has issued a whip to its legislators worried over cross-voting amid statements by rebel leader and former minister B Sreeramulu who claims he has the backing of 22 BJP MLAs.

Meanwhile, Congress and JDS have convened their legislature party meetings this evening.
 Congress is also trying hard to keep its flock together and fears cross-voting by some members in favour of ruling party nominee.

The independents are yet to decide on their stand, but are likely to vote for Gowda.

"We are keeping our options open. The legislature party meets this evening to take a decision on whether to support Congress candidate or not", State unit JDS President H D Kumaraswamy said.

However, insiders in JDS say the party might remain "neutral" during voting.