On Saturday, the Congress party had reportedly moved its MLAs to resorts, in a bid to win the second Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat that is scheduled to go for polls on June 19. Since March this year, 8 members of the Legislative Assembly belonging to the Congress had defected to the BJP. In the 182-member Legislative Assembly, the Congress tally had come down to 65. In the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Congress party had originally won 77 seats.
According to a report by Desh Gujarat, the Central and South Gujarat MLAs had been kept at Aeries Riverside resort in Umeta in Anand district. The MLAs from North Gujarat had been shifted to Wild Winds resort near Gujarat-Rajasthan border. The elected representatives from Saurashtra and Kutch were moved to Rajkot based Nil city resort, the owner of which is party leader Indranil Rajyaguru.
The Rajya Sabha polls were initially scheduled on March 26. Following the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, the polls were postponed. The Election Commission (EC) has now finalised the polling of four Rajya Sabha seats in the state on June 19.
Congress Gujarat MLAs resigns
In a huge setback to the Congress, the Congress MLA from Morbi, Brijesh Merja, had tendered his resignation from the party on Friday. He became the third party legislator to abandon his party ahead of Rajya Sabha polls. Congress spokesman Manish Doshi called Merja’s resignation as undemocratic. Accusing the BJP of poaching its candidates, Doshi remarked, “The party is using its political power, police, and purse and forcing out MLAs to defect. That said, every victory of our candidate in an election is the fruition of the toil of thousands of party workers.”
The age-old Resort Politics
This is not the first time that the Congress party had taken to resort politics. In July 2019, during the intense power tussle in Karnataka, the Congress and the JDS had herded its MLAs in resorts to keep the flock together. However, the encampment of the MLAs did not help the Congress party as the BJP adroitly toppled the 14-month long Congress-JDS government in the state and formed its own government.
In March this year, the Congress MLAs were huddled from Madhya Pradesh in a plush resort on the Delhi-Jaipur road. The Congress’ move to flock their MLAs to a safe location came amidst high-octane political drama that ensued following the resignation of Congress strongman Jyotiraditya Scindia along with 22 Congress legislators in Madhya Pradesh, sending shock waves to the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state.