March 17, 2020 11:04:50 pm
As the 68 MLAs of the Opposition Congress, including its leader Paresh Dhanani, have huddled together at a resort in Jaipur, Rajasthan, fearing poaching by ruling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of Rajya Sabha elections scheduled on March 26, the Gujarat Assembly conducted its two sittings Tuesday without the presence of the Opposition party.
However, reference to the Congress MLAs kept cropping up during the House proceedings even as Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, in a lighter tone, said that he would write an email to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, telling the latter that if anything happens to the Gujarat MLAs, then Rajasthan government would be responsible for the same.
On Tuesday, the Assembly had two sittings.
In the first sitting, budgetary demands of various departments like General Administration, Urban Development, Urban Housing, Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpasar were under discussion.
Generally, the opposition members move “cut motions” against the demands and also speak up against the government policies. However, in absence of the Opposition members, there was no cut motion and the budgetary demands were passed without any Opposition.
A number of BJP members participated in discussion on the demands while supporting it but not without a mention of the Congress, whose 68 members have been herded to the Shiv Vilas Hotel in Jaipur by Monday. This, after five Congress MLAs submitted their resignations from the assembly ostensibly in support of the BJP.
The Congress won the highest number of seats since the BJP came to power in 1995, in the 2017 general elections at 77 of the 182 seats, with BJP scoring its lowest since at 99. However, ahead of the Rajya Sabha by-elections in last year, the Congress numbers came down to 73 following defections, and the BJP numbers went up to 103.
BJP MLA from Surat (West) constituency, Purnesh Modi, said that Congress members do not love Gujarat, their “Madar-e-Watan (motherland)”, and have gone to Rajasthan. ‘Madar-e-Watan’, incidentally, is a scheme launched in the current annual budget where the state government would contribute an equal share of the sum spent by an NRI for the development of public in their home land in Gujarat, for which the government has allocated Rs 200 crore.
“Even if there is no case of coronavirus in our Madar-e-Watan, Congress members have left Gujarat. They have gone to Rajasthan while showing fear of corona. They have gone to Rajasthan, which is infected by corona. Now, their probability of getting coronavirus infection will increase,” said Modi.
He also said that there is possibility of coronavirus entering Gujarat through the Congress members when they come to vote for Rajya Sabha elections on March 26. “When they comeback, as per rules, they should be kept in an isolation ward for two weeks. They might lose chance to vote,” Modi added while demanding that the Congress MLAs should be kept in Rajasthan till the threat of coronavirus vanishes.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel also referred to the Congress MLAs during his responses in the Assembly.
“We bring people back from coronavirus-infected places like China, Iran and Europe. I don’t know why they have moved from a safe atmosphere to a place where corona is present,” said Patel.
Patel also asked the Speaker to have the Congress MLAs checked for any possible infection of coronavirus when they came back for voting in Rajya Sabha elections scheduled on March 26. The budget session is due till the end of the month.
Reacting to these remarks made inside the house, leader of Opposition in the Gujarat assembly Paresh Dhanani, told mediapersons in Jaipur that Congress MLAs have joined each other to fight BJP’s “Todo-na” virus.
On a statement in the Assembly that Congress members should be scanned on their arrival in Gujarat, Dhanani said that as a responsible party, they had demanded to suspend the proceedings of the House on the lines of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. “Gujarat government is disobeying its own order by continuing Gujarat Assembly only to infect it with ‘Todo-na’ virus and trying to jeopardise precious human lives. If anything happens to human lives due to this, then only political hunger of the BJP will be responsible for that,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.