Forty-one of the 43 Congress MLAs, who were taken to a Bengaluru resort and helped ensure the victory of party president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, will visit Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh on August 22, said Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki on Thursday. Before leaving for Tirupati, they, along with the other two MLAs — Gayasuddin Sheikh and Javed Peerzada — would meet the Congress president and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on August 21.
From Delhi, they would fly to Chennai from where they would travel 163 km by road to Tirupati. Sheikh and Peerzada would return after meeting Sonia and Rahul because of personal engagements on August 23. The visit was finalised at a meeting of the state Congress leaders with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Thursday. The meeting was attended by Patel, Solanki, Congress’s Gujarat affairs in-charge Ashok Gehlot and four AICC secretaries attached with the state.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Delhi, Solanki said: “In Tirupati, they (the MLAs) will pray for peace, prosperity and development of the people of Gujarat.” Shailesh Parmar, Congress chief whip in the state Assembly, said the MLAs, during their stay at the Bengaluru resort before the Rajya Sabha elections, had taken a vow that they would visit the Triupati temple if their candidate won the Rajya Sabha poll.
“Now that the Congress candidate has won, the MLAs have decided to go for a darshan to fulfill their vow,” said Parmar. Wankaner MLA Peerzada, who is not part of the programme, said that there were elections for a cooperative body in his constituency on August 23, for which he had to remain present.
Daryapur MLA Sheikh said that he had to attend the wedding of his nephew in Ahmedabad on August 23. After returning from Tirupati, these 41 MLAs along with Peerzada and Sheikh would attend a series of meetings of party workers across Gujarat to boost their morale ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
The party has divided the entire state into four zones — North, East, Central and South. Ahmed Patel will remain present in each of these meetings. The first such meeting would be held next week in Surat, where party workers from Surat, Bharuch, Navsari, Valsad, Dang and Tapi would be present.