Horse trading: EC seeks report from Gujarat govt

Horse trading: EC seeks report from Gujarat govt

Horse trading: EC seeks report from Gujarat govt
The Election Commission on Saturday sought a report from the Gujarat government on Congress charges that the BJP was using 'money and muscle power' to wean away its MLAs to win an extra seat in the Rajya Sabha polls.
 
The action came after senior Congress leaders approached the EC with a memorandum amid desertion of MLAs that puts senior leader Ahmed Patel's re-election to Rajya Sabha in doubt.
 
The EC also directed the state government to ensure “proper security” to all the MLAs and their family members after a Congress memorandum said, it is "painful to state that MLAs are being offered money and are lured of position of power to defect or resign from the Congress party".
 
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vivek Tankha and Manish Tewari met the Commission to raise the demand. Congress sought a direction from the EC to set up a high-level committee to probe the charges of use of money and muscle power and misuse of government machinery.
 
Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat are slated for August 8 and with the current strength in Assembly, BJP can get two seats and Congress one. BJP has fielded party chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani while it has also put up Balwant Singh Rajput, who resigned as Congress MLA as a third candidate. If there is cross-voting from Congress, Rajput could trounce Patel.
 
Around half-a-dozen Congress MLAs have resigned and there is speculation that more would dump Congress and join BJP in the state, where Assembly polls is slated for the end of the year. Congress has now taken its MLAs to Bengaluru to ensure that they do not jump the ship.
 
"How come party that does not have enough MLAs to field a third candidate steals candidate from Congress and puts that individual as third candidate," Sharma told reporters after the meeting with EC. "MLAs had to be taken out of the state that in itself is a black mark on state government and the ruling party. Its an assault on democracy," he added.
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