Amid controversy over reports that newly elected party MLAs in West Bengal were made to pledge their loyalty to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Congress today said that the written undertaking of allegiance to the party was a “voluntary” exercise by them.
“No instructions in this regard have been issued by the AICC or the General Secretary In-charge. This is a voluntary exercise and nothing more should be read into it”, party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters.
In reply to a volley of questions, he, however, said that during the last Assembly, 10 Congress legislators in the state were “poached” in violation of the Anti-defection law.
He suggested that if legislators by their own volition were doing it, it is a matter which will be looked after by the state leaders.
Reports from Kolkata had it that in an unprecedented move and much to the shock and surprise of many, the state Congress has made all the 44 MLAs in West Bengal sign an undertaking of allegiance to the party on a stamp paper of Rs 100 denomination.
The reports said in a meeting with the new Congress MLAs, West Bengal PCC Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made the proposal, to which all agreed. The state leadership is still apprehensive about at least eight MLAs who have won with a margin of less than 5,000 votes and in five cases, less than 3,000.
“I do swear my unqualified allegiance to Indian National Congress led by Honourable Congress President Sonia Gandhi ji and Honourable Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi ji”, the MLAs said in an affidavit to Congress President.
Surjewala also used the occasion to target the BJP accusing it of making attempts to lure party MLAs in Uttarkhand and Arunachal Pradesh through money power.
In Uttarkhand, the BJP got “reprimand” from the Uttarakhand High Court and Supreme Court. “We are still awaiting verdict on Arunachal Pradesh”.