Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia, who was cross-examined by assistant solicitor general Devang Vyas at the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday, stated that the 44 MLAs were taken to Bengaluru before the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls for a “training camp”, organised by the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC).
Modhwadia’s deposition was in relation to an election petition by BJP leader and then Rajya Sabha candidate, Balwant Singh Rajput, who lost the election to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Rajput has challenged Patel’s win in the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls, owing to undue influence exerted by Patel. Patel had won with a narrow margin against Rajput, who was earlier a Congress leader, and switched sides just before the Rajya Sabha election after getting a BJP ticket to contest the RS poll.
Modhwadia further mentioned during his cross examination that his presence was required during the training camp as he was one of the speakers for the event. Modhwadia also elaborated that such training camps aimed at equipping members with leadership skills and to apprise them of historical events from the independence movement, are conducted from time-to-time by the GPCC.
Interestingly, Ahmed Patel, during his deposition on June 24, had mentioned that it was also Bharatsinh Solanki, then the GPCC chief, who was taking reports on the situation at Bengaluru at the time. There was no mention of a training camp being conducted by the GPCC, by Patel.
Modhwadia also stated that he had visited Anand twice on August 7, 2017 – a day before the MLAs voted for one the Rajya Sabha candidates at the Vidhan Sabha premises in Gandhinagar.
The 44 MLAs who were taken to Bengaluru to purportedly secure votes for the Congress candidate of the poll, Ahmed Patel, had been taken to Anand and housed in a resort, a day before the voting.
Modhwadia denied being privy to Patel’s written statement in reply to the petition copy he was served along with summons in 2017, Patel’s affidavit last month and deposition. Modhiwadia was seen outside the court of Justice Bela Trivedi on June 20, minutes before Patel was expected to commence his deposition. Modhwadia is expected to be cross-examined on Wednesday.