Hours after the Congress approached the Election Commission charging the BJP with “engineering defections” of its MLAs ahead of Rajya Sabha elections, the poll panel sought a report on the allegations from the Gujarat Chief Secretary. The EC also instructed the state government to ensure proper security of all the MLAs and their family members. Struggling to keep its flock together in Gujarat in the face of “poaching” by the BJP, the Congress on Saturday sought intervention of the EC and demanded a high-powered independent committee to hold a time-bound inquiry into charges of money exchanging hands for engineering defections.
Six Congress MLAs have quit ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, prompting the party to shift the remaining MLAs to Karnataka. Leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari, Abhishek Singhvi and Vivek Tankha met the EC and demanded a committee of independent persons and officers to inquire into “charges of money power, muscle power and blatant abuse of government machinery for purposes of engineering defection and resignations of INC MLAs”. The committee, it said, should hear “all the MLAs who have been approached directly and indirectly with inducements of money and positions by the BJP, so that the allegations are duly recorded and substantiated for actions in accordance with law.”
The leaders asked the EC to direct “registration of offences against persons indulging in horse-trading, inducements and abuse and misuse of power, irrespective of such persons being in high positions of power and authority” and transfer or suspension of officers including a superintendent of police whom it accused is “involved in the racket of helping and facilitating the ruling party to engineer defections/ resignations of the INC MLAs”. They also demanded that the BJP government in Gujarat be restrained from “misusing its state machinery”.