A GROUP of 42 Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who are holed up in a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru to escape alleged poaching attempts by the ruling BJP in Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, put up a united front Sunday and sought to dispel perception that many of them were being held against their wishes. They also claimed to have the support of the requisite 45 MLAs necessary for ensuring that Ahmed Patel, senior Congress leader and aide to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is elected again to the Rajya Sabha in next week’s polls.
Congress spokesperson and MLA from Abdasa constituency, Shaktisinh Gohil, who addressed the media at the Magnolia Resort said the MLAs were not in their constituencies after the floods because they were being poached by the BJP with allurements such as Rs 15 crore and tickets to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls.
“The BJP is using below-the-belt tactics to lure the MLAs. They are using the threat of IT raids and the CBI to target the MLAs. Until now, this was not being done but with the Rajya Sabha polls around the corner they have started it,” Gohil said. He dismissed reports that the Congress MLAs were being forced to part with their mobile phones and live in semi-captivity in Bengaluru.
“The game of the BJP is to get 22 of the 57 MLAs of the Congress. Six have resigned and seven more have been lured but they have not resigned and they are having some doubts. I would like to appreciate the MLAs here who have not succumbed to the offer of Rs 15 crore or threats,’’ he said. According to Gohil, the BJP began targeting Congress MLAs after winning over the party’s chief whip and then a tribal MLA.
“The tribal MLA was made to sit in a vehicle by a police officer who was earlier accused of involvement in a fake encounter and was offered Rs 15 crore and the guarantee of a ticket to contest the next polls. After they won the MLA, who is a simple person, they began using him to target other MLAs,” Gohil alleged.
He claimed that it was the BJP government in Gujarat that was shirking its responsibility to flood victims by engaging in efforts to break the Congress rather than the Congress MLAs who had moved to Bengaluru to escape the poaching attempts. “If it was luxury that these MLAs were after then they could have accepted the Rs 15 crore offers from the BJP and toured the world. They have all gathered here to uphold democracy,” he said.
Bengaluru was chosen as the place to shepherd the MLAs remaining in the Congress flock since the state is ruled by a Congress government, Gohil said. “We will go wherever we feel secure,” he said. “If the CM of Gujarat and Amit Shah state tomorrow that they will not target our MLAs then we will return to Gujarat.” Gohil said the Congress was in touch with seven MLAs who had moved away but had not resigned as yet and that some were undecided in this group.