The 44 Gujarat Congress legislators, who were camping at a private resort near Bengaluru for 10 days, returned to Ahmedabad on Monday morning, from where they were taken to a resort in Anand district. The MLAs were whisked away from the airport in Ahmedabad and kept together at Nijanand resort on the outskirts of Anand, the town which houses the headquarters of Amul.
"MLAs have returned and they have been taken to a resort in Anand," Congress' chief party whip and senior leader Sailesh Parmar told reporters in Anand.
"All MLAs have decided not to go to their homes even on this day of 'Raksha Bandhan', and be loyal soldiers of the Congress party. They will stay together will go to vote for the Rajya Sabha polls on Tuesday (to Gandhinagar) from Anand," Parmar said.
Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil told ANI that the legislators are united, and that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cannot threaten any MLA.
All of us are united, BJP can't threaten any MLA...horse trading not possible with those who are with us now: Shaktisinh Gohil,Congress MLA pic.twitter.com/V9qbq34dAx
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 7, 2017
The Gujarat Congress had sent 44 legislators to Bengaluru on 29 July to fend off "poaching" attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), ahead of the 8 August Rajya Sabha polls, in which Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, is pitched against BJP candidates including party chief Amit Shah, union minister Smriti Irani and former Congress party chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput who recently joined BJP.
"We have the numbers. The BJP doesn't have the numbers. We will see to it that Patel wins the poll," Gohil told PTI on Sunday.
Parmar confirmed that Patel and state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki will come to Anand to meet meet the MLAs later on Monday.
The MLAs arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday amid tight security. Deputy Commissioner of Police Parikshita Gurjar said that nine senior officers and 95 armed police personnel escorted themfrom the airport. Security arrangements have also been beefed up in Anand after the Congress MLAs were shifted to the resort.
Have made sufficient security arrangements at entrance&periphery of the resort so there is no unknown intrusion: S Singh, SP, Anand #Gujarat pic.twitter.com/QethsVLAwz — ANI (@ANI_news) August 7, 2017
Refusing the claim that the MLAs would be flown to New Delhi, Gohil alleged that it was the BJP which was spreading "canards" that they would first be taken to the national capital to meet Gandhi. He also alleged that BJP was spreading "false reports" that the MLAs would use the 'NOTA' option in the polls to defeat Patel.
The Congress had gone to the Supreme Court against the introduction of 'NOTA' (none of the above) option in the Rajya Sabha polls.However, the Supreme Court later dismissed the party's plea allowing the use of the voting provision.
In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the strength of the Congress has gone down to 51 from 57 after six MLAs quit the party recently, with three of them joining the BJP on 28 July.
Meanwhile, BJP national spokesperson Samit Patra tweeted on Monday asking why the Congress MLAs were posing for a picture at a time the state is facing problems from floods.
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) August 7, 2017
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 12:35 PM