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The Election Commission has ordered the Gujarat Chief Secretary to inquire into charges of alleged 'horse-trading' of lawmakers in the state and submit a report by Monday evening after a series of Gujarat Congress lawmakers quit the party.
Following the loss of 6 of its legislators, Congress high command has sent the remaining Congress MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru to prevent the loss of any more legislators ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections on August 8. According to reports, around 44 of the 51 remaining Congress MLAs in Gujarat were sent to Bengaluru on Saturday.
Senior Congress leaders had approached the Election Commission in Delhi on Saturday accusing the Gujarat government of trying to arm-twist and lure its lawmakers ahead of the elections for the 3 Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat on August 8.
Along with ordering an inquiry, the Election Commission has directed the state government "to ensure proper security to all the legislators and their family members".
"There is horse-trading happening in the state of the Prime Minister... There is nothing sadder than this for our country and democracy... that the ruling party is stealing legislators," said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha after meeting the EC.
From the 6 Congress MLAs who left the party, at least 3 have already joined the BJP and speculation suggests more may be on their way to joining the saffron group.
The exodus of Congress MLAs followed the exit of veteran politician Shankersinh Vaghela who reportedly quit as he was unhappy over not being the Congress' chief ministerial candidate.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has brushed off the charges
"You have taken them (lawmakers) to Bengaluru... taken away their mobiles. That means Congress doesn't trust them enough," said CM Rupani.
"Anyway what does it have to do with us... This is Congress internal affair," he added.