Congress to parade all Gujarat MLAs before media

The Congress has sent 44 for its MLAs from Gujarat to a Bengaluru resort to fend off ‘poaching’ attempts by the BJP ahead of 8 August Rajya Sabha polls. The Congress has re-nominated Ahmed Patel (in pic) to the Upper House of Parliament from the state. Photo: HT

Bengaluru: The Congress on Sunday said it would parade all its legislators from Gujarat before the media later in the day in an effort to put to rest all speculations, including that of internal bickering in the party, as charged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The party has sent 44 of its legislators to a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat, six have resigned from the party in the last two days. Three of them joined the BJP on Saturday.

“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,” All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters at Eagleton Gold Resort on 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 bickering between us,” he said.

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

“They have taken their MLAs to Bengaluru 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 the BJP ahead of 8 August Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat.

Gohil claimed that Congress has 60 legislators with it and ruled out the 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 Ahmed 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 upcoming Rajya Sabha polls.

Countering the criticism of bringing the legislators to the Bengaluru resort when north Gujarat is reeling under heavy rains and floods, Gohil said the MLAs were shifted from Gujarat 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.

The BJP has fielded party president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput, who joined the BJP on Thursday, for the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

Of the total of 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three—Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya, also from the BJP, and Ahmed Patel—will end on 18 August.

First Published: Sun, Jul 30 2017. 04 17 PM IST

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