As the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election is coming closer, the drama in the state is at its peak. It is a high-profile contest in the state with the Bharatiya Janata Party deciding to field party president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress MLA Balwantsinh Rajput, who joined the BJP on Thursday. Out of the 11 RS members from Gujarat, the term of three – Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel is ending on August 18. The drama escalated when six Congress MLAs left the party ahead of the election taking its number down to 51 from 57. Now, the party has reportedly shifted 44 of its legislators to a resort outside Bengaluru to fend off “poaching” attempts by the BJP. Here are 10 critical developments so far:
1. Trouble started when three Congress MLAs PI Patel, Balwantsinh Rajput and Tejashree Patel resigned from Congress on Thursday. out of these, Rajput is a relative of Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress last week, while PI Patel was the Congress legislator from Vijapur.
2. The number rose to six as three more MLAs Maan Singh Chouhan, Ramsinh Parmer and Sana Bhai Choudhari left the grand old party on Friday.
3. In this backdrop, the party decided to fly 44 of its legislators to Bengaluru late last night to ensure they don’t succumb to police and political pressure to join the saffron party.
4. “To ensure that BJP is not successful in its mission, 44 of us Congress MLAs are leaving from Gujarat for Bengaluru. To hide their failure, the saffron party is trying to make sure our MLAs resign by offering money and through police pressure,” Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar told media.
5. Congress named the entire saga a ‘murder of democracy’. “This is a murder of democracy in Gujarat. First, the MLAs were being threatened. Now their families are also being meted out the same treatment. What kind of a democracy is this? Such incidents never took place in the past,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said after meeting the Election Commissioner.
6. Another Congress leader Anand Sharma said it is a black dot on the state government and the ruling party. “We will bring into the EC’s notice how power, governance and the police are being misused. Money is being used openly in the state. There cannot be a greater violation. This is being done openly; it is an assault on the democracy – an open indulgence into corruption and violation of laws,” he said.
7. Meanwhile, another party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had accused the BJP in the state of horse-trading ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for August 8.
8. However, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy retaliated by saying that Congress leaders are like cattle and are being taken to a cage. “They (Congress legislators) are cattle…they are being taken to a cage. Only BJP can give them the fodder,” he told reporters at the Jodhpur Civil Airport when asked about the recent developments in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
9. Even Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad laughed off the accusation and said the Congress has become a sinking ship and is not able to hold their own house together.
10. Reacting to the allegations by Congress, the Election Commission of India on Saturday sought an enquiry report from the Chief Secretary of Gujarat by Monday. The commission has also instructed the state government to ensure proper security to all the MLAs and their family members in Gujarat.