Cong back to resort politics in Gujarat

Recently, the Congress had moved its MLAs to a resort to prevent defections. (DH File Photo/B H Shivakumar)

Taking a leaf out of the successful experiments from the past, the Congress in Gujarat is now back to herding its flock to resorts for taluka panchayat polls.

The party had moved its legislators before the Rajya Sabha polls to Bengaluru a year ago, and also after the Karnataka elections recently to prevent poaching by the BJP.

During the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls, the Congress had sent 44 of its 58 legislators to a resort in Bengaluru. This had helped its senior leader Ahmed Patel make it to the Upper House of Parliament.

At present, the elections are being held in about 50-60 taluka panchayats to elect presidents and vice presidents. Generally, these elections are held every two-and-a-half years among elected representatives of these panchayats.

The Congress is learnt to have shifted some of its taluka panchayat members from Patan, Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and several other districts to undisclosed “safe” locations in Diu and Rajasthan.

The Congress had dislodged the BJP in 23 of the 31 district panchayats and 113 of the 193 taluka panchayats in 2015.

“We were out of power for long and victory in these panchayat polls helped our party keep the remaining flock together and played a key role in helping us restrict the BJP below the 100 mark in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly during the 2017 elections. It is, therefore, important for us to hold on to power here at the grassroots level,” a senior Congressman said.

However, in recent times, the BJP seems to have begun eating into the Congress’ remaining base. The Congress lost control in several places, including Amreli, the hometown of Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Paresh Dhanani, due to defections.

“On Tuesday, through the intervention of our local legislators, we have been able to beat opposition from within and the BJP to retain power in Amreli district panchayats, though we were not successful in Dhandhuka. It is to prevent such horse trading that we have been forced to take our members out of the state,” another senior Congress leader said.

The BJP, however, denied the allegations. “The Congress is riddled by internal strife and discontent. By blaming the BJP, they are merely trying to mislead people. If their own members do not honour their mandate, there is no need to put the blame on the BJP,” said Bharat Pandya, BJP spokesperson.

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Cong back to resort politics in Gujarat

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