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'Poaching' of Congress MLAs: Academics, lawyers want Gujarat High Court probe

Congress Rajya Sabha aspirants: Shaktisinh Gohil, Bharatsinh Solanki
By Our Representative 
Several concerned citizens, including senior academics, lawyers and activists, have asked the speaker of the Gujarat state assembly not to accept any resignation of MLAs after the election for Rajya-Sabha is notified, even as wanting the Gujarat High Court to conduct a “detailed investigation” in the manner in which recently the Congress MLAs resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls and "punish the culprits."
The statement follows a week after a major jolt to the grand old party in Gujarat, with three of its MLAs – Brijesh Merja, Akshay Patel and Jitu Chaudhary – handing over their resignation letters to state assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi. The Congress has levelled charges of horse trading against BJP, with party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi saying Union Home Minister Amit Shah and “was absent during the virus outbreak, however got active as soon as the Rajya Sabha polls were announced.”
Signed, among others, by senior academics Prof Indira Hirway, Prof Dinesh Awathi, Prof Sebastian Morris, Prof Ghanshyam Shah and Prof Navdeep Mathur, advocate Bhushan Oza, and activists Gagan Sethi and Sejal Dand, the statement says that they are “pained to see the political games played out by our political leaders and members of Legislative Assembly in every Rajya-Sabha election.
“This has happened many times in the past, but we want to request the concerned authorities to stop it immediately now”, they said, adding, “This year this game is particularly unbearable. Instead of paying full attention to controlling the outbreak of Covid-19 in the state, the dominant party is busy poaching MLAs from the opposition parties to win maximum seats in the Rajya-Sabha election.”
The statement says, “Though this buying of MLAs is shown on paper as sudden resignations by the MLAs, citizens of Gujarat know very well that MLAs from opposition parties are bought by the dominant political party. We do not know but we gather from local newspapers that the price of an MLA this year is between Rs 20-50 crore or more.”
The statement regrets, “This is fundamentally against the spirit of democracy, as the MLAs resigning for money are betraying their respective constituencies. Also, wrong people get into Rajya Sabha from Gujarat when fair election procedures are not followed.”
The statement has demanded that not only should the speaker not accept the resignation of any MLA after the Rajya Sabha elections were notified, he should, in fact, nullify the results of the Rajya-Sabha election if a single MLA resigns from MLA’s post during this period.


Instead of paying full attention to controlling the outbreak of Covid-19 in the state, the dominant party is busy poaching
The statement also demands that the state government should issue an ordinance that the MLAs after the notification of the election of Rajya-Sabha are disqualified for any public office or any office of power or profit for life, and people should be empowered “with the Right to Recall MLAs and MPs if they betray the people of their respective constituencies.”
So far eight Congress legislators have resigned from the Congress since March, when elections for four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat were announced. The depleted strength of Congress in the assembly is likely to further dampen its prospects in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in the state on June 19. The BJP had secured a narrow majority in the 2017 assembly elections with 99 seats. The Congress had finished with 81.
However, over the last two-and-a-half years, a number of Congress MLAs have either switched sides or resigned. By March 2020, the Congress tally had already reduced to 73. After eight resignations over the last three months, its strength has further gone down. The development is a severe setback to the party which had hoped to win two of the four seats in the Rajya Sabha poll, which is expected on June 19.
The party has nominated senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki. Left with 73 MLAs, the party in March had hoped that it would be able to secure both the seats. With independent MLA Jignesh Mevani likely to support the Congress candidates, the party will still be four short of 70 votes, required to win two seats in the current assembly strength. In this scenario, it is likely to win just a single seat, while the BJP with 103 legislators appears set to take three.

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