Fearing poaching by BJP, Congress leaders have kept all 18 party candidates elected to the Ahmedabad district panchayat at an unknown location.
The district panchayat has 34 seats of which Congress has won 18, while BJP emerged victorious on 16. A party needs at least 18 members to form the board.
“The elected Congress members of the Ahmedabad district panchayat are currently kept at a secret place,” district Congress chief Khodabhai Thakore told The Indian Express. However, he said, “They are currently in Ahmedabad.’’
He said the 18 newly-elected members would be taken “straight” to the district panchayat on the day of formation of the board. The date for formation of the board is yet to be announced by the development commissioner (DC).
Sources in Congress said the 18 Congress members were taken on a tour of Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan, and Indore in Madhya Pradesh immediately after declaration of the election results to ensure that BJP does not contact them and engineer a defection.
“The DC should have issued a notification regarding formation of the district board immediately after declaration of panchayat poll results on December 2. But, it was purposely delayed to allow BJP to indulge in horsetrading and cause defection within Congress ranks,” alleged Thakore. “The DC is working under pressure of the state BJP government.”
He further said, “BJP is short of only two seats and they can capture the panchayat if they are able to win over two members by causing defection among elected Congress members… That is why, we have kept our people at a secret place.”
State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, when asked about elected Congress members being kept at an unknown location, he said: “I am not aware if they are kept in hiding.”
“But, BJP is in the habit of poaching. They have done so in the past and took over Banaskantha, Gandhinagar and Kheda district panchayats by engineering defection among the elected Congress candidates,” he said, adding, “We have learnt that BJP is trying again for poaching.”
BJP, however, rejected Congress’s allegation, with its spokesperson Harshad Patel saying, “Congress leaders should have trust on their own workers. The whole episode shows there is a lack of trust between Congress leaders and the party workers.”
Development Commissioner Hareet Shukla too rejected allegations that he purposely delaying the announcement of the date for board formation.
“There is no truth in the allegations… We can issue notification only after receiving the list of elected candidates,” he said.
“I received the list of elected candidates from the state election commissioner only on Monday evening and we started the procedure for issuing notification immediately after that… The notification and dates for formation of boards in all 31 district panchayats, including Ahmedabad, would be issued by Thursday morning,’’ the official added.