EX-CMs keep eye on Congress MLAs

Jaipur: With the political crisis in Maharashtra at its peak, the panic-stricken Congress has kept its flock of 44 MLAs at a luxurious Italian-style resort and the 44 legislators who met in the morning passed a one-line resolution entrusting the issue of nominating the leader of Congress legislature party to Sonia Gandhi.

Restless Congress legislators found it difficult to establish contacts with their supporters as the state administration has put off the Internet. AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge reiterated the party’s stand not to extend support to the Shiv Sena in “any form”.

He said the Congress along with the NCP was given the mandate to sit in the opposition and it would honour the mandate. “There are some statements — some talking about support to Shiv Sena and some denying it — but there is no fact in such statements.

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The Congress’s stand is we have to go with the public mandate and the Congress and NCP have to sit in the opposition,” he said, adding neither Congress nor NCP will support Shiv Sena.

Three former CMs—Sushil Kumar Shinde, Prithviraj Chauhan and Ashok Chavan — and Maharashtra PCC chief Balasaheb Thorat are camping in Jaipur to keep a watch on the legislators, who are being lured by both BJP and Sena. Kharge is the general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra.

The idea of shifting the Congress legislators was a joint decision of CM Ashok Gehlot and Congress general secretary for Rajasthan Avinash Pande, who hails from Nagpur.

Gehlot deputed health minister Raghu Sharma and chief whip Mahesh Sharma — both his confidante — to look after the MLAs.

Gehlot said he has the information that Shiv Sena MLAs are facing suffocated and the party has put great pressure on them to ensure that the BJP does not form government in the state.

Pande said, “Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena have hired external agencies to put pressure on the MLAs.”