Ahmedabad, Jun 20: The Gujarat Congress has shifted its councillors out of the state, fearing that the ruling BJP might ‘poach’ them ahead of the elections for the heads of district and taluka panchayats. Sources close to the party have claimed that the councillors of Ahmedabad, Patan and Surendranagar districts have been shifted to hotels in Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Diu. Taluka panchayat members too have been kept together at various places in Gujarat.Also Read - ‘BJP After All Our Mosques; The Kashmir Files Responsible For Violence In Valley’: Mehbooba Mufti
Elections for heads of over 200 taluka panchayats was held on June 19, and that of 31 district panchayats will be held on Wednesday. Also Read - Demolitions in Delhi: '80% of Delhi Illegal, Will You Destroy All of It', Arvind Kejriwal to BJP
Elected members of district panchayats have been shifted till the elections for the posts of president and vice president, said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi. “To stop the BJP from luring Congress councillors to capture Congress-ruled district panchayats, we have shifted our councillors out of the state. This was necessary to thwart the BJP’s attempt to acquire power through money,” he was quoted as saying in a PTI report. Also Read - Congress Chintan Shivir: Party Discusses Role of EVMs in Poll Debacles, Ponders Over Strategy to Find Back Winning Ways
Local bodies in Gujarat, though having a tenure of five years, elect new heads midway through the term. A majority of these are currently controlled by the Congress.
Gujarat Congress in-charge Rajiv Satav, who held a meeting with party observers a few days back to take a stock of the situation, said, “The BJP is known for misusing power….Recently we have seen it in Gujarat. But this sends a message among the masses that the BJP is using money power to snatch power. It will have to pay the price for this.”
Earlier, the opposition party has also sent a letter to the state chief secretary J N Singh.
“In view of the unfair means adopted by the ruling BJP to acquire power by hook or by crook, we urge you to deploy adequate police force during the polls….We also urge you to do videography of the elections on June 19 and 20,” the letter stated.
Earlier in Tuesday, the Congress retained post of President and Vice President uncontested in eight district panchayats. Accusing the BJP of horsetrading, Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda tweeted, “Despite BJP using all it’s dirty tricks & using/misusing the Govt Machinery. @INCGujarat has retained post of President & Vice president UNCONTESTED in 8 District Panchayats – Anand, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Junagadh, Amreli, Chhotaudepur, Narmada & Tapi and 40 Taluka Panchayats!”
Congress’s move ahead of Panchayat elections in Gujarat comes as a reminder of the approach it had adopted during the crucial Rajya Sabha polls when 44 state MLAs were kept in a luxurious resort in Bengaluru in July 2017.