On first outing after a week, Gujarat MLAs meet governor

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BENGALURU, Aug 5 (PTI): Gujarat Congress legislators on Saturday ventured out for the first time from a private resort on the city outskirts where they have been camping for about a week and met the Karnataka Governor, besides visiting the state secretariat here.

The Congress had sent its 44 legislators here on July 29 to fend off what it alleged were ‘poaching’ attempts by the BJP ahead of the August eight Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat in which Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, was contesting.

The MLAs were driven from the luxurious resort to Raj Bhavan in a state transport bus, where they met Governor Vajubhai Vala.

Congress sources said it was a courtesy visit, as Vala also hails from Gujarat and had served as Assembly Speaker and Finance Minister there. He enjoyed good rapport with the MLAs, they said.

“Karnataka Guv hon Vajubhai Vala meet each of us, the  44 Gujarat Congress MLA s individually. This is samvad and  spirit of Democracy,” Congress’ national spokesman and Gujarat MLA Shaktisinh Gohil said in a tweet.

From Rajbhavan, the MLAs were taken to Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, where they were joined by Karnataka Minister D K Shivakumar, who is facing the Income Tax department heat with searches at multiple locations in the state and his house here.

Shivakumar, who is overseeing the arrangements to keep the flock together, emerged out of his house on Saturday after undergoing grilling by the Income Tax officials for three consecutive days.

During the first ever outing from the resort, the MLAs along with Shivakumar visited Mahatma Gandhi statue, next to the Vidhana Soudha, and staged a symbolic protest against what they alleged were ‘attempts to poach them by the BJP’ and sang ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’.

After this, the MLAs were escorted inside Vidhana Soudha by Shivakumar.

“All the MLAs are happy and together…,” Shivakaumar  told reporters.

Shivakumar was at the resort when the search began on  Wednesday. IT sleuths even visited the resort to escort the  Minister to his residence for questioning, which the Congress  has alleged was an attempt to threaten Gujarat Congress MLAs.

The legislators in the last couple of days took part in ‘orientation classes’ on a host of topics including the ‘party’s achievements in the last 60 years’ and the ‘BJP’s lies and the truth’ among others, conducted by Dr Suresh Sharma and Naushad Paramar of Jawaharalal Nehru Leadership Institute, New Delhi.

Earlier, the itinerary of MLAs during their stay here included visit to some tourist destinations and religious  places, but it was scrapped following accusations against the lawmakers of ‘abandoning’ voters when their constituencies were affected by floods. Six of the 57 Congress MLAs in Gujarat have resigned from the party recently with three joining the BJP on July 28.

The party has apprehensions about Patel’s election to the Rajya Sabha, if more MLAs defect.

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