Gujarat Congress suspends MLAs ahead of RS polls

Rajya Sabha polls: Gujarat Congress suspends MLAs, alleges BJP bought them

After losing five of its legislators barely ten days before the Rajya Sabha polls for four seats, the state Congress on Monday took its MLAs to a Jaipur resort in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan to prevent further embarrassment.

Although the party claims that all the remaining MLAs, 68, are with it, many of them didn't turn up at the last moment at the airport, leaving speculations afloat.

"All our MLAs are heading to Jaipur where we will be discussing the next course of action," said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi. Meanwhile, the Congress suspended the MLAs who had tendered their resignation whose names were made public on Monday by Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi in the Assembly session.

Soon after Trivedi announced that he accepted the resignations, a notification was issued declaring five assembly seats as vacant, making way for by-polls.

Earlier, a war of words ensued between BJP and Congress legislators in the Assembly. State Congress chief Amit Chavda alleged that "BJP paid Rs 65 crore to these MLAs for tendering resignations. They are killing democracy."

Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said that the "deal" was finalised at Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani's residence in Gandhinagar. Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel shot back to brush aside the allegations said that the Congress party can't handle their own people. State BJP president Jitu Vaghani termed the allegation of buying Congress MLAs a "lie" and said that they should bring proof to ascertain it.

During the sessions, Congress leaders demanded that ongoing session be suspended till March 29 in view of the rising threat from coronavirus but it was opposed by the BJP leaders and the speaker denied the demand.

Later in the day, when Congress leaders decided to take all its MLAs away from Gujarat, BJP leaders mocked in a written statement that "In the name of the corona, Congress legislators are going to play politics and party in a resort in Jaipur, leaving behind public at the mercy of God."

For the four Rajya Sabha polls, BJP has fielded three candidates despite not having numbers to win the third one, while the Congress nominated two candidates. With the changing number of legislators, Congress may lose the second seat as there are supposed to be cross-voting and more resignations.

The MLAs who resigned are Somabhai Patel, Pradyumansinh Jadeja, J V Kakadiya, Pravin Maru and Mangal Gavit. Later in the day, video footages of some of the Congress MLAs were also released, which showed them tendering resignations to Speaker Trivedi.

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