Amid fears of cross-voting in the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls on June 10, the Congress party in Haryana on Thursday shifted its MLAs to the party-ruled Chhattisgarh to protect them from `poaching’ attempts. The MLAs arrived at the Swami Vivekanand Airport in Raipur in the evening by a special flight and proceeded to a resort in Nava Raipur in two buses, a party leader here said.
They were accompanied by the party’s Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Deepender Hooda. The legislators arrived at the residence of Hooda in Delhi earlier in the day and left for Raipur from the national capital, the local leader said. As many as 27 Congress legislators from the northern state arrived in Raipur, sources said.
Two Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana will fall vacant in August as the terms of media baron Subhash Chandra, elected as an independent with the BJP’s support, and BJP leader Dushyant Gautam, will expire. The ruling BJP has fielded Krishan Lal Panwar for one of the two seats while Congress has fielded Ajay Maken. With the entry of a third candidate — Kartikeya Sharma — as an Independent, the Congress does not want to leave anything to chance in order to secure one Rajya Sabha seat. Given the numerical strength in the state assembly, the BJP is set to win one seat.
Around 40 Rajasthan Congress MLAs and some Independents left for a hotel in Udaipur as the party tries to keep its flock together before the June 10 Rajya Sabha elections. The MLAs boarded a luxury bus from the chief minister’s residence in the Civil Lines and left for Udaipur around 5 pm, party sources said. The bus was escorted by a police team.
The MLAs and other leaders, who attended a state Congress workshop at a hotel in Jaipur, were called at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s residence for lunch. After the lunch, the MLAs left for Udaipur in the bus, the sources added.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the Congress needed to form a government in Madhya Pradesh and also repeat its previous success in his own state and Chhattisgarh before it can face the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Addressing the concluding session of a two-day party workshop in Jaipur, the CM said the Rajasthan government has introduced excellent schemes but there should be proper marketing just as the BJP does at the grassroots-level.
In June 2017, Congress had sent 44 of its Gujarat MLAs to a resort outside Bengaluru to fend off “poaching” attempts by the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha election. Party sources had said that Bengaluru was chosen as Congress has its government in Karnataka during that time.
Out of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat, from where senior party leader Ahmed Patel was contesting, six had resigned from the party in the two days with three of them joined the BJP.
In 2020, ahead of the June 19 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, the Congress again shifted its MLAs to various resorts in Gujarat fearing poaching. While some MLAs gathered in Rajkot in Saurashtra, few others were in Abu Road in Rajasthan.
“After meeting local leaders in Gadhada, the MLAs will proceed to Dhari town in Amreli district,” Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, who is also among these 17 MLAs from Saurashtra region, said.
During a political crisis in Rajasthan in 2020, Congress had shifted around 50 MLAs in the Ashok Gehlot fold to a hotel on the Jaipur-Delhi Highway after Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress legislators rebelled against the government.
The MLAs were shifted to Jaisalmer in three chartered flights so that they remain united.
With inputs from News18