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Rajya Sabha polls | Rajasthan, Haryana Congress MLAs moved to resorts to prevent poaching- Mrit News

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Rajya Sabha polls are expected to go down to the wire with emergence of BJP-backed independent candidates

Rajya Sabha polls are expected to go down to the wire with emergence of BJP-backed independent candidates

As the Rajya Sabha polls in Haryana and Rajasthan are expected to go down to the wire with the emergence of BJP-backed independent candidates, the Congress on Thursday moved its MLAs from these States to resorts to prevent poaching.

While the Haryana lawmakers have been moved to party-ruled Chhattisgarh in an attempt to keep the flock together, the lawmakers from Rajasthan will be sequestered in the hotel near Udaipur where the party’s Chintan Shivir was held last month.

Elections to four Rajya Sabha seats in Rajasthan and two in Haryana will take place on June 10.

About 40 Congress MLAs and some Independents in Rajasthan boarded a luxury bus from the Chief Minister’s residence in Civil Lines, where they were called for lunch after a two-day workshop of the Pradesh Congress Committee got over.

The bus was escorted by a police team, while several Ministers left for Udaipur by their own vehicles. Another bus ferrying a second batch of MLAs was scheduled to leave late in the evening while Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot would reach by plane.

Of the four seats in the fray, the Congress can comfortably send two candidates — Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik — but the contest has become tighter for the third seat where it has fielded Pramod Tiwari. The party is short by 11 votes and will need the vote of its allies and independents to ensure Mr. Tiwari’s victory.

The BJP, which has fielded former Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari as its official candidate, is also supporting media baron Subhash Chandra contesting as an Independent.

“BJP won’t succeed”

“We are confident of winning three seats. The BJP is playing dirty tricks of horse-trading, but it is not going to succeed,” Mr. Gehlot told reporters after addressing a workshop, that was a follow up of the Udaipur’s Chintan Shivir.

While the majority of the 13 independent MLAs have announced their support to the Congress, all eyes are on the MLAs of smaller parties such as the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, the CPI(M), the Bharatiya Tribal Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The RLD is an ally of the ruling party whose lone MLA Subhash Garg is a Minister in the Ashok Gehlot government.

While BTP State president Velaram Ghogra has announced that the party would abstain from voting, its two MLAs are yet to make their stand clear. The Bahujan Samaj Party has shot off a letter to Governor Kalraj Mishra urging him to prevent its six MLAs, who had merged with the Congress, from casting their votes, as the case of their alleged violation of anti-defection law was pending in the Supreme Court.

‘Strong resentment’

BJP State president Satish Poonia said the Congress’s decision to herd its MLAs to the Udaipur hotel depicted its “fear, anxiety and panic”, caused by a strong resentment within the party.

“There will be no benefit of shifting the MLAs. The Congress should introspect and find the ways to deal with the antagonism displayed by its own members,” Mr. Poonia said.

In Haryana, the entry of Kartikeya Sharma, a media baron, into fray as an Independent candidate has queered the pitch for senior Congress leader Ajay Maken.

Majority of the 31 MLAs of the Congress were shifted to Chhattisgarh to prevent the possibility of poaching.

Led by Haryana Congress in-charge Vivek Bansal, 27 MLAs arrived in Raipur in the evening after a meeting in Delhi.

The Haryana MLAs are supposed to visit the Kaushalya Mata temple on Friday but it was not clear how long would they stay in Chhattisgarh.

However, disgruntled Adampur MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, Tosham MLA Kiran Choudhry, also former Haryana Cabinet Minister, chose to stay behind.

Another MLA, Chiranjeev Rao from Rewari, took special permission to stay back as he would join the rest in Raipur on Saturday after celebrating his birthday on June 3.

In Haryana, votes of 31 MLAs are required to get elected as a Rajya Sabha member. Though the Congress has this number, there is speculation that Mr. Bishnoi, who is upset with the high command after being ignored for the post of Pradesh Congress Committee chief, may not vote on party lines.

“If the BJP manages to take way votes of two Congress MLAs, then Ajay and Kartikeya will have almost equal number of first preference votes and then the second preference will come into play. In that scenario, Kartikeya will have an advantage,” explained a senior Haryana Congress leader.

Trying to counter such a possibility, State Congress president Udai Bhan not only urged Indian National Lok Dal MLA Abhay Chautala and Independent MLA Balraj Kundu to make their stand clear but also appealed to them to back Mr. Maken.

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