Ahmedabad: Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Paresh Dhanani told the High Court (HC) on Monday that Gujarat Congress MLAs had to move out of the state and camp in Bengaluru ahead of the August, 2017 Rajya Sabha polls for three seats as the ruling BJP resorted to bribery and intimidation.
Dhanani was cross-examined as a witness in a petition challenging the election of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in August, 2017. Deposing before Justice Bela Trivedi, Dhanani said the Congress MLAs were compelled to move out of Gujarat and camp in the Karnataka capital for days ahead of the election because the BJP indulged in offering bribes and also tried to intimidate the MLAs.
During their visit to Bengaluru, the Congress MLAs attended training sessions for three days and visited several places, including the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and Governor House, he said. The high court is hearing a petition filed by BJP leader Balvantsinh Rajput challenging Patel's election to Rajya Sabha. Rajput, a former Congress MLA, had quit the party to join the BJP ahead of the 8 August election.
After losing the poll as the BJP candidate, Rajput accused Patel of bribing MLAs to vote for him and requested the HC to quash the Election Commission's order invalidating the votes cast by two rebel MLAs of the Congress. Rajput also prayed that votes of two other Congress MLAs be declared invalid.
The EC's decision to invalidate the votes of Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavji Patel had helped Patel get 44 votes, the minimum he needed to win. Rajput had polled 38 votes. BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani had then won from the rest two seats from Gujarat.
The issues framed by the HC in the case include whether Patel or his election agent committed the act of "bribery" and "undue influence" and thereby, indulged in "corrupt practices" as alleged by Rajput, making the election "liable to be declared as void".
Updated Date: Jul 09, 2019 11:02:47 IST