Gandhinagar, July 3: Ahead of the July 5 by-elections for the two Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat, the Congress party is taking its MLAs to Mount Abu in Rajasthan where they are expected to stay for the next 24 hours. The Congress party said the shifting of its legislators was a "precautionary" step in order to thwart Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attempts to bribe MLAs.
“We will shift to Mount Abu today and are taking this precautionary step due to the pressure tactics of the BJP. Out of the 71 MLAs we have, 65 will stay in Mount Abu,” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Manish Doshi was quoted by Indian Express as saying. The decision to shift MLAs was taken after senior Congress's leaders' meeting with Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. Rahul Gandhi Officially Resigns as Congress President, Takes Blame For Lok Sabha Debacle.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is in-charge of by-polls in Gujarat, held discussions with Gujarat Congress in-charge Rajeev Satav after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi and then it was decided that all legislators will be moved to Mount Abu. The two Rajya Sabha seats were vacated after BJP leaders Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha on May 23.
The BJP has nominated External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and party's Gujarat OBC Cell President Jugalji Thakor. Congress has fielded former MLA Chandrika Chudasama and party’s leader from Valsad, Gaurav Pandya. The Congress had challenged the EC decision to hold separate polls for the Upper House seats in the Supreme Court and demanded that the elections should be held together, as was the practice.
Given Congress strength of 71 MLAs in the Assembly, the Congress and the ruling BJP would have won one seat each -- on the basis of first preference votes of their MLAs -- had the polls been held together. In the case of separate polls, all legislators vote twice and first preference votes are counted for each seat. However, the Supreme Court rejected its plea. (With IANS inputs)