Udayavni Special

Not my idea to shift Guj Cong MLAs to Bengaluru: Patel to HC


PTI, Jun 25, 2019, 8:11 AM IST

Ahmedabad: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel Monday told the Gujarat High Court that it was the state party unit’s decision, and not his, to shift 44 of its MLAs to a Bengaluru resort ahead of the 2017 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

Patel was cross-examined for the third day by the lawyer of BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput, who has challenged Patel’s election to the Upper House of Parliament.

The cross-examination will continue on Tuesday before Justice Bela Trivedi.

Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Jain, who is appearing for Rajput in his personal capacity, posed several questions to Patel regarding Congress MLAs being moved to the resort on the night of July 29, 2017, to thwart a possible “poaching” attempt by the BJP ahead of the August 8 polls.

Denying his role, Patel claimed he was not aware of the MLAs being shifted and learnt about it the next day when he read the newspapers.

He said it was the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee’s (GPCC) decision and not his.

Patel told the court that when he learnt about the shifting of the MLAs, he even told the then GPCC chief Bharatsinh Solanki that it was “not needed”.

The Congress leader said the GPCC took the decision fearing that the BJP may engage in “horse-trading”.

When Jain showed him some photographs and asked him whether he had gone to meet these MLAs at the airport upon their return, Patel said he did not remember.

Justice Trivedi then asked Patel to “answer properly” and said it was “not believable” that he did not remember.

After their arrival here on August 7, the Congress MLAs were taken to another resort in Anand where they stayed till morning next day, Jain told the court.

Patel also denied Jain’s charge that he was behind these arrangements, adding that the expenses of keeping the MLAs in the resorts were borne by the GPCC.

“The BJP and Rajput used undue influence and pressure, and also indulged in bribing, which resulted in the resignation of six MLAs ahead of the polls and cross-voting by eight Congress MLAs,” Patel said.

Rajput had filed the petition after he lost to Patel in the keenly-contested Rajya Sabha election in the state.

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