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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

For MLAs of 3 states, Rajya Sabha polls a walk in the park, splash in the pool

Ahead of the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections, legislators of at least three states – Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra – are huddled in five-star hotels and resorts to ensure rival parties do not lure away their MLAs.

Written by Hamza Khan , Varinder Bhatia , Manoj C G | Chandigarh, Jaipur, New Delhi |
Updated: June 8, 2022 7:33:24 am
An MLA taking a dip in the swimming pool; a few women legislators stopping to get their feet wet. (Express photo/Screengrab)

A splash in the pool, a game or two over snacks, an evening by the poolside – resort politics is in and no one’s complaining. Ahead of the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections, legislators of at least three states – Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra – are huddled in five-star hotels and resorts to ensure rival parties do not lure away their MLAs.

At the Taj Aravali Resort & Spa in Udaipur, since June 2, Rajasthan Congress MLAs and those supporting them have been kept busy and entertained with birthday celebrations, magic and movie shows, antakshari sessions, and more.

Photographs and videos emerging from the resort show Rajya Sabha candidates Randeep Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari, flanked by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra, participating in a magic show. There are also videos of some of the MLAs enjoying a cultural show, a few trying his hand at singing, another taking a dip in the swimming pool and a few women legislators stopping to get their feet wet.

The BJP MLAs, in contrast, have been having a far less lively time at the Devi Ratn hotel in Jaipur. According to BJP sources, between June 6 and 9, the legislators will have 12 sessions focusing on the party, its ideology, eight years of Modi government, Mission 2023, etc. From 6-7 pm every day, there will be sessions to train the MLAs on voting in the RS polls.

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Hitting out at the Congress, BJP state president Satish Poonia said, “All of Rajasthan is witnessing what Congress MLAs are up to – chilling in the pool, singing, dancing and all that food. They have no answers to the power crisis, people are running around for water and these people swim in pools. The entire government is in baadebandi (sequestered).”

The scenes are no different at the Mayfair Lake Resort in Raipur, where Congress MLAs from Haryana are kept. On June 2, the Haryana MLAs flew in from Delhi to Raipur on a chartered flight and checked into the resort. On June 10, they will be flown from Raipur back home to Chandigarh on a chartered flight. Only they won’t get home that soon – from the airport, they will be taken straight to the Haryana Vidhan Sabha where they will cast their vote before being allowed to leave for their residences.

At the Taj Aravali Resort & Spa in Udaipur, Rajasthan Congress MLAs and those supporting them have been kept busy and entertained with birthday celebrations, magic and movie shows, antakshari sessions, and more. (Express photo/Screengrab)

AICC observer Rajeev Shukla, CLP leader Bhupinder Hooda and Congress candidate Ajay Maken, too, have reached Raipur to interact with the MLAs and to ensure they stay united.

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Party sources told The Indian Express that the MLAs have been taking morning and evening strolls by the lake side – they are not allowed to go sight-seeing on their own.

“We have been spending time with each other, watching movies, playing cards and taking lake-side walks. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and a few other senior ministers from the Chhattisgarh government visited us and interacted with us,” one of the Congress MLAs told The Indian Express.

Another legislator said he likes his breakfast at the hotel’s lake-side restaurant. “Some of the MLAs prefer to spend their evenings in the pool and enjoy their evening snacks and drinks. It is more of a vacation. It is a good initiative by the party. It’s a good opportunity to interact with each other, discuss politics and also relax,” the MLA said.

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A visual of some of the MLAs enjoying a cultural show. (Express photo/Screengrab)

Two senior MLAs, Kiran Choudhry (Tosham) and Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur), are yet to join the MLAs in Raipur. With just two days left, it is unlikely that they will go. However, the Congress high command claimed that they are confident that both the MLAs would vote for the party’s nominee.

While party sources said Choudhry has been unwell, Bishnoi has been openly sulking over not being appointed state Congress president.

In Maharashtra, a contest for the sixth Rajya Sabha seat is heating up between the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the BJP ahead of the June 10 elections. With seven candidates in the fray for six Rajya Sabha seats, the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress, constituents of the MVA, and the Opposition BJP in Maharashtra, have begun moving their MLAs to the resorts.

While Sena MLAs had checked into The Retreat Hotel and Convention Centre Hotel Retreat in Malad, following a meeting with top leadership of the MVA, including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, at the Trident Hotel, they stayed on in the hotel.

– With inputs from Vishwas Waghmode in Mumbai

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First published on: 07-06-2022 at 09:34:42 pm

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