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Four months after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi indicated during a meeting in Lucknow that all the sitting MLAs will be repeated in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections due early next year, the party has been forced to reconsider the strategy.
The “rethink” comes days after as many as six party MLAs shifted loyalty and defying the party whip, cross-voted for other parties during the recent Legislative Council and the Rajya Sabha elections. The party also doubts that along with these six MLAS at least four other MLAs had also cross-voted. The party is now keeping a close watch on all its remaining legislators.
“With it being open voting during the Rajya Sabha polls, the six MLAs could be easily identified. However, we suspect that actually 10 MLAs, including these six, had cross-voted during the Legislative Council elections. Since the voting was not open, it is difficult to single out the names. But, to avoid any sudden exodus before the elections, we are keeping a close watch on all of them,” said a senior party leader.
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Congress had 29 MLAs, out of which six cross voted in favour of BSP and BJP candidates during the Rajya Sabha polls creating a scare for the party’s official candidate Kapil Sibal, who scraped through with support of other parties. The MLAs were later expelled from the party. They included Mohammad Muslim from Rae Bareli, Dilnawaz Khan from Bulandshahr, Kazim Ali Khan from Rampur, Sanjay Jaiswal from Basti, Madhuri Verma from Bahraich and Vijay Dubey from Kushinagar.
Sources informed that four other MLAs who are suspected to have cross-voted during the MLC polls, include one from the western Uttar Pradesh, two from eastern UP and one from Bundelkhand. Thus out of its remaining 23 MLAs, party is confident about only 19 legislators at present.
Meanwhile, amidst talks of changes at the state level, party is also trying to identify workers and leaders, who had openly demanded expulsion of sitting state president Nirmal Khatri during state executive meeting in Lucknow last week, in the presence of AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Asked about any possible action, Ram Krishna Dwivedi, chairman of UPCC disciplinary committee, refused to comment, calling it an internal party matter. He, however, added, “We have an internal democracy within the party but indiscipline will not be tolerated. We are vigilant about such activities.”