In an overnight operation, Congress flew 38 of its Gujarat MLAs from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru to keep them from being “poached” by the BJP ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in that state. On Friday night, the party MLAs flew out from Ahmedabad to Bangalore and are now staying at Eagalton Resort in Ramnagar district, 40 kms from the city. Remaining party legislators will join later.
Six of the total party MLAs had already resigned from the party earlier and three had made their way to BJP.
The Friday night operation is an attempt to patch the bleed in Congress caused by elaborate plan scripted by veteran politician Shankarsinh Vaghela to stall the return of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha.
“Looking at the current situation (in Gujarat), where attempts are being made to lure our members, we are taking 46 of our MLAs to Bengaluru tonight,” a senior party leader, requesting anonymity told PTI on Friday night.
To hide their failure, BJP is trying to make sure our MLAs resign by offering money and through police pressure: Shailesh Parmar, Cong Gujarat MLA
To ensure BJP is not successful, 44 of us Congress MLAs are leaving from Gujarat for Bengaluru: Shailesh Parmar, Cong MLA
Earlier on Friday, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala demanded that the Election Commission (EC) lodged a criminal case against the BJP for “poaching” its MLAs using “money and muscle” power, a charge denied by the saffron party. In a major setback for the opposition party in Gujarat, three more of its MLAs resigned on Friday, taking the number of legislators who quit the party ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls to six.
The Congress has re-nominated Ahmed Patel, the 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 now gone down to 51 from 57.
The desertions have cast a shadow on the fate of Patel in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls.