The Gujarat Congress will change the MLAs before the RS bypolls

GANDHINAGAR: Before Rajya Sabha took two seats in Gujarat on July 5, the state decided to change its MLA to Mount Abu, a popular hill station in Rajasthan, party leaders said on Wednesday.

The main opposition party said that its MLAs will participate in a brainstorming session in Mount Abu to write down a strategy for the current budget session of the assembly and denied that the measure was linked to secondary publications.

Party sources said congressional lawmakers will remain in Mount Abu until early morning on July 5.

The vote for the bypolls, in which the MLAs constitute the electoral college, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

Ashvin Kotwal, leader of the Congress in the assembly, said that the decision to change the MLA to Mount Abu has nothing to do with the bypolls.

He denied suggestions that the decision is due to fear of any attempted poaching by the ruling BJP before the vote.

However, the MLA Dhavalsinh Zala Congress claimed that the party is reeling under the fear of cross-voting by some of its MLA.

Zala is an unconditional supporter of the dissatisfied MLA Congress.

Both have openly criticized their party's decision to change Gujarat MLAs and declared that they will not go to the hill station with other colleagues.

It should be noted that Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to thwart a possible attempt at poaching by the BJP before 2017.

According to Kotwal, all the MLAs of the parties have unanimously decided to hold a brainstorming session in Mount Abu to mark a strategy for the current budget session of the assembly.

There is no doubt of any fear or pressure. Since there is no assembly session until Monday, all the MLAs have unanimously decided to use these mini-vacations and hold a workshop in Mount Abu.

We will brainstorm ideas and exchange ideas to mark our strategy for the upcoming debates in the assembly on budget allocations, said Kotwal.

Kotwal, however, admitted that one or two MLA parties can vote for BJP candidates during vigils.

Both Zala and Thakor are still our MLA. We have not suspended them yet. Except for one or two MLA, all the legislators are with us and will not participate in the cross-poll, Kotwal said.

Both Zala and Thakor said they will not attend this 'shibir' (camp) organized by their group.

Thakor even refused to give a guarantee that he will vote for the candidates to Congress, claiming that he has not received the whip issued by the party for secondary publications.

I still have not received the whip of the game. I can only say that I will cast my vote on July 5. Only time will tell who I voted for.

There are many MLAs in Congress who are upset with the party and waiting for the right moment (to jump). What was the need to move the MLA? You can also organize a workshop in Gujarat. I'm not going with these MLA. said Thakor.

According to the leader of the opposition in the assembly, Paresh Dhanani, the party organized a workshop on July 4 to make the new members of the MLA understand the voting process in the polls of Rajya Sabha.

The MLA would remain together for a day before the July 5 vote. This will be a workshop for the MLA for the first time that they will exercise their franchise for the first time.

There is no doubt of any fear (of poaching). We are confident that all of our MLAs will vote for party candidates, said Dhanani.

The bypolls in the two seats of Gujarat were necessary after deputies Rajya Sabha BJP, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, resigned after their election to Lok Sabha in May from Gandhinagar and Amethi, respectively.

While the BJP has presented the minister of external affairs S Jaishankar and the leader of the OBC, Juglaji Thakor, the Congress has appointed Chandrika Chudasama and Gaurav Pandya.

Voting for both seats will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on July 5. The count will be made at 5 pm on the same day.

Given its strength in the 182-member assembly, the BJP is set to win the two seats for which voting will be conducted separately according to the notice of the Electoral Commissions (EC).

Of the total of 182 MLA, 175 legislators are qualified to exercise their franchise this time.

The strength of the BJP is 100, followed by 71 MLA of Congress.

Other MLA eligible to cast their vote are two from the Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from the NCP and one Independent.

Since the elections for the two seats will be held separately, a candidate must obtain 50% of the votes to win.

In the current scenario, each candidate needs 88 votes to ensure victory.

According to the election officials, three MLAs will not be able to cast their votes in the chapels since they were disqualified for several reasons in the recent past.

In addition, there are four vacant seats after their seated MLAs renounced being elected to the Lok Sabha.