Forty-four Gujarat Congress MLAs returned to the state early on Monday, after a 10-day stay at a Bengaluru resort. The MLAs had been flown out of Gujarat after six of them had quit the party. The state will have its Rajya Sabha election on Tuesday.
Airport security at Ahmedabad was increased ahead of their arrival, and the legislators were immediately taken to a resort on the Borsad-Anand highway, The Times of India reported. Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki, however, was said to have still been apprehensive about security arrangements despite a massive deployment of forces. “If Rahul Gandhi was attacked even after SPG protection, then what can we expect in Gujarat?” he asked.
In Bengaluru to ‘attend classes’
The Congress had flown the 44 MLAs to Bengaluru after they had claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to poach them. Three of the six legislators who had quit the state Congress had joined the BJP, a move allegedly planned by ousted Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who was suspended from the party. Vaghela had hoped to be the Congress chief ministerial candidate in next year’s election.
The Congress denied speculation that its lawmakers were vacationing while over a 100 people died in floods in Gujarat. They said the MLAs were attending classes on the “lies of the BJP” while in Bengaluru, NDTV reported.
The numbers in the Rajya Sabha
Polling will be held for three Gujarat Rajya Sabha seats. The BJP will field party president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani in the Rajya Sabha polls. The two are certain to win, given the BJP’s numbers in the state. They, however, need to ensure their third candidate Balvantsinh Rajput – one of the six Congress legislators who had quit – is elected.
The Congress will need to get Ahmed Patel re-elected, for which he needs 45 votes. Patel has served four terms in the Rajya Sabha so far. On paper, the Congress has 51 seats in the Assembly.