The Congress today accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections by its MLAs in Gujarat ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha poll, even as three more of its legislators quit the party.
The Congress today accused the BJP of using “money and muscle power” to engineer defections by its MLAs in Gujarat ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha poll, even as three more of its legislators quit the party. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference here that the Election Commission (EC) should register a criminal case against the saffron party. Six Congress MLAs in Gujarat have resigned in the last two days, ahead of the Rajya Sabha election in the state. The party has fielded Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in the upcoming poll to the Upper House of Parliament.
Three Congress MLAs, accompanying Surjewala at the press meet, alleged that the BJP offered them money and election tickets for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha election. “On August 8, election to three Rajya Sabha seats will be held in Gujarat, in which BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are the BJP candidates. The BJP has the mandate to win only two seats. However, a sinister political conspiracy is afoot,” Surjewala alleged. He added that Congress MLAs were being offered bribes “of crores of rupees”, election tickets and other allurements.
“Is it not a blatant violation of the election laws and all established norms? Does such conduct not flagrantly violate the provisions of the Representation of the People Act? Isn’t misuse of government officers, agencies, state power etc. to influence election results a criminal offence?,” he asked. “We demand that the Election Commission take note of this…and register a criminal case,” added Surjewala. Punabhai Gamit, the Congress MLA from Vyara, alleged that a senior police official posted in Tapi district approached him yesterday and offered Rs 5-10 crore to him for switching over to the BJP, which he declined.
Dang MLA Mangal Gavit and Ishwarbhai Patel, another Congress legislator present at the press meet, made similar allegations. Asked why the Congress was not able to control its MLAs, Surjewala said like the three legislators present at the meet, those who had a firm faith in the party’s ideology would not fall prey to the “money and muscle power” of the BJP. Asked to react, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Nitin Patel dismissed the allegations. “It is their (Congress) internal problem. The BJP has nothing to do with it,” he said.
The terms of three Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat — Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both from the BJP) and Patel — will come to an end on August 18. Patel has been re-nominated to the Upper House by the Congress, which had 57 MLAs in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, of whom six have resigned. The main opposition party in the state also has the support of two NCP legislators and the lone JD(U) MLA.