With three more of its MLAs in Gujarat resigning, Congress on Friday forced repeated adjournments in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the BJP of “stealing” and “abducting” its legislators to influence the elections for the Upper House. Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that Congress MLA Punabhai Gamit was “abducted” by an SP at the behest of state government. Azad said the SP told the MLA that while Congress will not give him a ticket, he could get him in touch with BJP leaders, who will do so.
“Is tarah se Rajya Sabha MP chunne ke liye choriyan karte hain, daaka daalte hain (You steal, rob MLAs in this way to become Rajya Sabha MPs),” Azad told the treasury benches. He demanded that the Chair direct the Election Commission to hold free and fair polls in Gujarat. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, however, said this is an issue in which the Chair cannot act and advised the Congress members to approach the EC.
Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma alleged that the BJP was “in the habit of stealing MLAs, which they earlier displayed in Goa and Manipur”. “Now they are stealing MLAs for Rajya Sabha elections.” Reacting sharply, MoS, Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused the Congress of “insulting Gujarat and Gujaratis”.
“This morning, during the Zero Hour and Question Hour, Leader of the Opposition (Azad) and Anand Sharma made objectionable statements to defame Gujarat. They said Gujarat, which was earlier a safe haven for state encounters, has witnessed kidnapping of an MLA for stealing of votes. They have abused Gujarat and Gujaratis. They are levelling allegations against the Prime Minister and the PMO. They have to apologise,” Naqvi said.
Responding to Azad’s demand that the Chair direct the EC to hold free and fair polls, Naqvi said the Opposition will now ask for direction to Supreme Court to release leaders embroiled in corruption cases or to the EC to get them victories in elections they have lost. Kurien said before adjourning the House for the day, “They want you to apologise. You want them to apologise. What can I do?”