Gandhinagar: The Gujarat Congress is taking its legislators to Mount Abu in party-ruled Rajasthan, where a meeting has been convened ahead of the July 5 Rajya Sabha elections for two seats in the state.
Meanwhile Union Home Minister and BJP President Amit Shah, who is in Gujarat for two days from Wednesday, is likely to hold closed-door meetings with party MLAs at his residence in connection with the Rajya Sabha polls.
Congress’ Deputy Leader in the Assembly Shailesh Parmar told reporters: “Since there is no sitting of the ongoing Monsoon session of the House tomorrow (Thursday), the Congress MLAs are leaving for Mount Abu, where they will participate in a party meeting related to the elections to the Upper House of Parliament.”
The MLAs will board a bus for the hill station on Wednesday evening. Since the Assembly session is on, all of them are in Gandhinagar and Mount Abu has been chosen because it is close to Gujarat, just about 300 km.
Parmar said the party has issued a whip to all its 71 MLAs to vote in favour of Congress candidates Gaurav Pandya and Chandrikaben Chudasama. He warned that legislators who defy the party whip or abstain from polling would invite disqualification procedure.
The party on Wednesday pasted the whip notice outside the residence of rebel MLA Alpesh Thakor as he was not present to receive the official paper. A similar notice has been pasted outside the house of Dhavalsinh Jhala, another rebel and Thakor loyalist.
During the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections, when party veteran Ahmed Patel was seeking a re-election, the Congress had taken its MLAs to party-ruled Karnataka to prevent poaching or defections. This was after several legislators had resigned and joined the BJP.
Polls to the two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat was necessitated after Union Ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani resigned following their election to the Lok Sabha.
Since the Election Commission (EC) has announced separate polling for both the seats, the ruling BJP’s victory on these seats is a foregone conclusion on the basis of its strength of 100 MLAs in the House of 182. Congress petition in the Supreme Court challenging this and demanding simultaneous polling for both the seats was rejected.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and North Gujarat Thakore community representative of the party Jugalkishore Thakor (Lokhandwala) are the BJP candidates for the two seats.