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It’s like a thief attacking a cop: Javadekar takes on Cong after Gujarat poaching allegations

Congress MLAs from Gujarat staying at a resort outside Bengaluru are willing to return home if CM Vijay Rupani promises their safety, party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil says.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2017 12:20 IST
Agencies, New Delhi/Ahmedabad
Gujarat,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Congress spokesperson Shaktisingh Gohil speaks as Gujarat Congress MLAs look on during a press conference at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru on Sunday. (PTI)

Rejecting the Congress’ charge of poaching its MLAs in Gujarat, the BJP has said it had no role in the recent desertion by six of its legislators and wondered whether they were “purchasable”.

It also said that the sole of aim of the Congress was to save its vice president Rahul Gandhi in the country and Ahmed Patel in Gujarat.

Taking a dig at the Congress after it ferried its MLAs to Bengaluru to keep its flock together ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the lawmakers were “enjoying themselves” there while those of the BJP were busy providing relief to the flood-hit people in the state.

The party shepherded 44 lawmakers on Friday night to the holiday retreat in Karnakata after a spate of resignation of its MLAs amid allegations that the ruling BJP in Gujarat were bribing and coercing them ahead of the August 8 vice-presidential election.

“Gujarat Congress leaders are leveling allegations at the BJP in Bengaluru. It is like a thief attacking a cop. If their leaders are leaving them, it has nothing to do with us,” Javadekar told PTI on Sunday after the Congress attacked the saffron party.

He noted that senior Congress leaders like Shankersinh Vaghela, a former chief minister and the leader of opposition, its chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput and its spokesperson Tejashreeben Patel have left the party and wondered if the opposition party was suggesting that they could be “bought”.

“They are all strong leaders. Nobody can purchase them. The Congress should look inwards and think why such senior leaders are leaving it. The truth is that its only goal is to save Rahul Gandhi in the country and Ahmed Patel in Gujarat,” he said.

Patel is seeking re-election to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat but defection by a number of Congress MLAs has left the party worried. The BJP has fielded Rajput, who quit the Congress on Thursday, against Patel to further queer his pitch.

The Congress was growing weak across the country and it was not BJP’s fault, Javadekar said.

In Ahmedabad, chief minister Vijay Rupani alleged that the decision to fly the Congress MLAs to Bengaluru amid flood-like situation in the state was taken by Patel out of his “greed” to win the election.

“Sonia Gandhi’s affection for her son has drowned the Congress in the entire country. Though the citizens rejected Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, Sonia’s ‘putramoh’ sank Congress. Similarly, Ahmed Patel’s greed to save his Rajya Sabha seat here will sink Gujarat Congress,” he said.

According to Rupani, the Congress MLAs from flood-hot Banaskantha and other affected regions should have stayed with the people in this difficult time.

“Out of his greed to win the Rajya Sabha poll, he (Patel) sent 40 Congress MLAs to Bengaluru. Some of them belonged to those districts which are badly hit by flood. Patel forced them to leave their constituencies, as he was only concerned about his Rajya Sabha seat,” the chief minister alleged.

“The people of Gujarat are watching this. I believe that the Gujarat Congress will sink only because of Ahmed Patel,” he added.

Patel, however, refuted Rupani’s allegation and said the Congress MLAs were forced to leave the state by the BJP-led state government.

In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the strength of the Congress has gone down to 51 from 57 after six of its MLAs tendered their resignations.

Party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the Congress legislators are willing to return home if Rupani promises their safety.

“We have been threatened, offered money to defect and some have done so,” Gohil, the Congress MLA for Abdasa in the Kutch region, told reporters in Bengaluru.

First Published: Jul 31, 2017 09:32 IST