Congress to parade all Gujarat legislators before media, rejects BJP claim of internal tension in party

Bengaluru: The Congress on Sunday said it would parade its all legislators from Gujarat before the media this evening in an effort to put to rest all speculation, including internal bickering in the party, as charged by BJP.

The party has sent 44 of its legislators to a resort outside this city. Of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat, six resigned from the party in the last two days. Three of them joined the BJP on Saturday.

Representational image. Reuters

“Democracy is passing through trying times. I would request media owners, channels and newspapers to save democracy. This responsibility lies with them too. We will bring all the legislators before you (media) and you can ask anything you want,” AICC spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters at Eagleton Gold Resort at the city’s outskirts.

“I am here since last night with my colleagues. We are living like a family. You (BJP) are talking about internal problem? Just see how we respect each other. There is no internal problem or bickerings between us,” he said.

Gohil was reacting to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani’s charges of internal problems in Congress triggered by the quitting of its leaders, including Shankarsinh Vaghela and Balwantsinh Rajput.

“They have taken their MLAs to Bangaluru as they do not have faith in their MLAs,” Rupani had said.

The Congress had sent the 44 legislators to the resort to fend off “poaching” attempts by BJP ahead of 8 August Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

Gohil claimed that Congress has 60 legislators with it and ruled out BJP winning the third Rajya Sabha seat, polls for which are scheduled on 8 August in Gujarat.

“The question is BJP does not have any number. Congress has 57 legislators therefore BJP cannot even dream of winning the third seat. There are three other colleagues also — we are now 60,” he said.

Congress has re-nominated Patel, political secretary to party chief Sonia Gandhi, to the Upper House of Parliament from Gujarat.

In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the strength of the Congress has gone down to 51 from 57.

The desertions have cast a shadow on the fate of Patel in the coming Rajya Sabha polls.

Countering criticism of bringing the legislators to the resot to Bengaluru when North Gujarat is reeling under heavy rain and floods, Gohil said the MLAs were brought here after party leaders came to know about BJP’s attempt to poach their MLAs using “money and muscle” power.

However, on 25 July, all Congress legislators had visited their constituencies in North Gujarat to be among the affected people, he said.

BJP has fielded party president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput who joined the BJP on Thursday.

Of the total of 11 RS members from the state, the term of three —Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel — will end on 18 August .

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