RS polls: Cong sends 14 Guj MLAs due to poaching fears

RS polls: Cong sends around 14 Gujarat MLAs to Jaipur, others too being shifted due to poaching fears

Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh are already staying in two resorts in Rajasthan after a revolt in the party threatened the survival of its government there

The Congress will need 74 votes to win two seats. Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Friday extended his support to the Congress. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons Photo)

The Gujarat Congress has started shifting its MLAs out of the state amid fears of horse-trading ahead of March 26 Rajya Sabha elections, and the first batch of around 14 legislators reached Jaipur on Saturday night.

Another batch of party MLAs is likely to reach the Rajasthan capital on Sunday, party sources said.

The Congress decided to shift its MLAs, even when the Assembly session is underway, after the BJP fielded three candidates though it can win only two seats out of four as per its strength in the Assembly. Two candidates from Congress have filed their nomination papers.

The Congress' chief whip in Rajasthan Assembly Mahesh Joshi and deputy chief whip Mahendra Chaudhary received the Gujarat MLAs at the Jaipur airport and took them to a resort on Jaipur-Delhi highway in a bus.

"As part of strategy, we are shifting some of our MLAs so that the BJP is not able to use state machinery to poach them," Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said in Ahmedabad.

In the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly, BJP has 103 seats, Congress 73, while two seats are with Bharatiya Tribal party and the Nationalist Congress Party has one. There is one Independent legislator as well.

The BJP will require cross-voting from Congress MLAs to win the third seat, as it needs a total of 111 votes.

The Congress will need 74 votes to win two seats. Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Friday extended his support to the Congress.

Sources said Congress MLAs will be shifted to Jaipur and other places in batches, and a few will also stay back to attend the Assembly session as required.

MLAs like Himmatsinh Patel, Ganiben Thakor, Chandanji Thakor, Rutvik Makwana, Bharatji Thakor, Lakha Bharwad, Nathabhai Patel, Ajitsinh Chauhan, Harshad Ribadiya, Chirag Kalariya and others were seen at Ahmedabad airport, as they arrived to board flights. "This is a part of our party's strategy," one of the MLAs told reporters after arriving at the Jaipur airport.

The sources said the MLAs will go in separate groups to Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Talking to the media, MLA Baldevji Thakor said, "For now I am going to Delhi. From Delhi, the party will decide where I will go. We have to go to three to four different places."

The Congress' move is to thwart any attempt at cross-voting.

It has fielded senior state leader Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki while the BJP has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin.

"My vote will go to the Congress," Mevani said after meeting the two Congress candidates.

The BJP, with 103 MLAs, is banking on support of two MLAs of the BTP, led by tribal leader Chotu Vasava, and one of the NCP, but will still need another five votes.

Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh were brought to two resorts in Rajasthan this week amid a political crisis in the state after a group of MLAs led by Jyotiraditya Scindia rebelled.

Scindia has joined the BJP, which has claimed that the Kamal Nath government has lost majority in the Assembly

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