Cong parades 44 Gujarat MLAs, alleges BJP bid to poach them

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Jul 2017 08:58:52



Of the initial strength of 57 in Gujarat, six MLAs resigned from the party in the last two days. Three of them joined the BJP on July 28. Seven other MLAs are not part of the group in the resort near Bengaluru

THE Congress on Sunday paraded its 44 MLAs lodged in a resort on Bengaluru outskirts before media to scotch reports of disunity in their ranks, and accused the BJP of trying to poach them by offering a bribe of Rs 15 crore each to cross-vote in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Apparently rattled by the desertion of its six MLAs since Thursday, the party has shifted over 40 of them to the resort to keep its flock together ahead of the August 8 RS poll for which it has fielded Ahmed Patel, the high-profile Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The resignation by the six MLAs, including Balwantsinh Rajput, Congress chief whip in the Assembly, followed the exit of party stalwart and former Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela. The resignations brought down the Congress’s strength in the Assembly from 57 to 51. Three of the six later joined the BJP.

Rajput, a relative of Vaghela, has now been fielded by BJP to take on Patel, who is seeking a fifth Rajya Sabha term. “Our legislators have not come here to enjoy. We brought them here to save democracy as they were being poached by BJP, using money and muscle power,” AICC Spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters at the resort as the MLAs sat behind him.

“BJP tried to buy 22 of our MLAs before the Rajya Sabha polls for cross-voting by offering them Rs 15 crore each,” he alleged. The BJP, however, rejected the allegation that it was behind Congress MLAs walking out of the party. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also wondered if Congress lawmakers quitting the organisation were ‘purchasable’.

The BJP also took a swipe at Congress over the lavish stay of its MLAs at a resort when people were reeling under floods back home in Guj. There were reports that several MLAs supporting Vaghela, who has still not resigned from the Assembly, were among those staying at Egleton Golf Resort. With 51 MLAs on his side, the Congress candidate would easily sail through the vote, but more desertions could put his chances into jeopardy.

The presidential election had seen cross-voting by Congress legislators with the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar garnering votes of only 49 MLAs against the Congress’ then strength of 57 in the State Assembly. Gohil claimed Cong has the assured support of 60 MLAs and BJP should not even dream to get Patel defeated.