Amid elections, Congress chalks out plan to prevent poaching of MLAs

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In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the ongoing election, the Congress is also busy preparing post-poll strategies: saving its lawmakers from poaching.

According to two leaders , the party has already chalked out a plan to pack off its newly-elected lawmakers in Uttarakhand and Goa to resorts in Congress-ruled Rajasthan and is getting them ready to take a chartered flight out of Dehradun or Panaji at short notice, if the situation arises. “There has been a preliminary meeting . But if the situation demands that our MLAs must be protected from BJP, we will move swiftly,” said a senior poll strategist who asked not to be named. Another leader pointed out that, “Rahul Gandhi is very clear that we can’t lose any chance of forming a government.”

The Congress has reason to worry. In the 2017 Goa polls, it had emerged the single largest party with 17 MLAs in the 40-member assembly. But it was slow off the blocks and came off second best to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was quick to woo local and smaller parties.

“But this time, we are taking enough precaution. Former Union minister P Chidambaram has been made in charge of Goa and communication channels with local parties are already open,” said a senior leader involved with the party’s Goa strategy who asked not to be named

Many Congress leaders are hopeful of winning Uttarakhand and Goa out of the five states that have gone to poll this winter. While some analysts are of the opinion that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party will do well in Punjab, some Congress leaders insist that they will win Punjab too.

Still, should the Congress retain power in Punjab, it doesn’t see much of a challenge in keeping its flock together, given that the state will basically see a continuation of Charanjit Singh Channi’s administration.

The other states could be a problem, though. And according to the senior Congress leader cited above, two chief Congress ministers, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel and Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot will be pressed into action and fly the MLAs to Rajasthan.

There have been several occasions where a party has taken its lawmakers away from a state and kept them under tight supervision in another state. In Karnataka, the BS Yeddyurappa-led BJP organized such a camp in Maharashtra (then run by BJP) for its lawmakers and those who left the Congress in 2019.

The Congress too,indulged in similar so-called resort-politics when former deputy CM of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, camped in neighbouring Haryana with his loyal MLAs, triggering a crisis in the Rajasthan government, which promptly ensconced its own loyal MLAs in a Jaipur luxury hotel. .


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