The Election Commission on Saturday demanded a report from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government over Congress allegations that the saffron party was “engineering a defection” of its MLAs before the Rajya Sabha elections. The state’s chief secretary has been asked to submit the document on Sunday, the poll panel’s spokesperson said.

The state government has also been directed to “ensure proper security to all the MLAs and their family members,” the commission’s spokesperson said.

A Congress delegation has submitted a memorandum to Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti (pictured above) and demanded that the commission set up a high-level panel to investigate allegations of “money and muscle power” used by the BJP to “engineer the defections”.

The Congress had flown most of its MLAs in Gujarat from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru on Friday night after six of them quit the party ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections. The Sonia Gandhi-led Congress had accused BJP’s President Amit Shah of using “money and muscle power” to lure its MLAs.

Shifting loyalties

On Friday, the Congress had accused the BJP in Gujarat of horse-trading ahead of the elections. “Crores of rupees have been spent in horse trading in Gujarat by the BJP,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had said. Nine other Rajkot Congress MLAs also alleged that the BJP had offered them money to switch parties.

The Congress on Friday had also disrupted proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, claiming that one of its Gujarat MLAs, Punabhai Gamit, had been abducted by the state police to influence the upcoming elections. The Upper House had to be adjourned four times in quick succession because of the protests.

On Thursday, Congress Chief Whip in the Gujarat Assembly Balwantsinh Rajput and MLAs Dr Tejashree Patel and PI Patel had resigned from the party and joined the BJP. Rajput was fielded to contest against Congress’ strong nominee for the Rajya Sabha elections, Ahmed Patel. On Friday morning, Congress MLAs, Chhana Chaudhry, Mansinh Chauhan and Ramsinh Parmar resigned from the party.