Congress MLAs return to Gujarat, taken to resort as Vaghela says he’s in touch with Ahmed Patel


Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who were camping in Bengaluru ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, returned to the state this morning and were taken to a resort in Anand district, party leaders said.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is in fray for the Rajya Sabha polls which will be held tomorrow. Patel is also the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “All our MLAs have returned and they have been taken to a resort in Anand,” Congress party chief whip and senior leader Sailesh Parmar told reporters in Anand.

The MLAs were whisked away from the airport here and have been kept together at one Nijanand resort on the outskirts of Anand town. “All our MLAs have decided not to go to their home even on this day of Rakshabandhan and be loyal soldiers of the Congress party. They will stay together and they will go to vote for the Rajya Sabha polls tomorrow (to Gandhinagar) from Anand,” Parmar said.

“Ahmed Patel and state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki will come to Anand to meet them,” he said adding they have not taken police security at the resort. Election to three Rajya Sabha seats will be held tomorrow, in which Patel 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.

A pitched battle is on between the two parties to win Rajya Sabha elections after senior Gujarat Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela quit the party. In a jolt to the Congress, six of its MLAs quit the party on July 27 and July 28.

In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the strength of the Congress has gone down to 51 from 57.
Subsequently, the rattled Congress tucked away 44 of its MLAs to a Bengaluru resort to insulate them from alleged “poaching” attempts by the BJP.

Meanwhile, Vaghela told NDTV that he was in touch with Patel, who, according to him, had called him on Monday morning.

He told NDTV, “Since 1977 we are cordial friends, at that time I was in Janata party with the BJP and in those days Ahmed bhai was in the Congress. Even now, today also our relationship is very cordial. Today morning also we discussed on the telephone, tomorrow also he is going to call me, after 8th also we are going to see each other, so no problem, our relationship is without political party.”

Eslewhere, the NCP, which has two MLAs, said on Monday that it had yet to firm up its stand on who to support in tomorrow’s high-profile Rajya Sabha polls. The third candidate fielded by the BJP is a close relative of Vaghela.