NEW DELHI: On a day when the Gujarat High Court issued notices to the Election Commission and Congress leader Ahmed Patel on a petition filed by BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput challenging the EC’s decision to invalidate the votes of two rebel Congress MLAs in the Rajya Sabha polls, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, along with her deputy Rahul Gandhi, met with party lawmakers from Gujarat to give them a pep talk, on Monday.
The lawmakers numbering 43 had stayed with the party unlike others who were lured by the BJP and voted against Patel in the hotly contested Rajya Sabha polls. BJP chief Amit Shah too was a candidate in the election.Both Sonia and Rahul asked the Gujarat legislators to work together ahead of the assembly polls likely to be held by this year-end. Party veteran Ashok Gehlot, now the All India Congress Committee in charge of Gujarat, was also present on the occasion along with Patel. “Had a good meeting with Congress MLAs and leaders from Gujarat today,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted after the meeting that lasted for about 30 minutes.
According to Shaktisinh Gohil, a Gujarat lawmaker, both Sonia and Rahul reminded the legislators to follow the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, who belonged to the state and has been the guiding figure of the Grand Old Party.The Congress has been in the opposition in the state for around 19 years and is desperate to stage a comeback. The Congress suffered a jolt when leader of the opposition Shankersinh Vaghela quit the party along with his loyalist lawmakers. Vaghela had been pressing the Congress leadership that he be given charge of the state, something which both Sonia and Rahul have refused to buy.
Notice to EC, Shah and Irani
Gujarat High Court judge justice Bela Trivedi issued notices to the EC, Patel and the two other candidates — BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani on a plea by Rajput challenging the EC’s decision to invalidate the votes of rebel Congress MLAs in the recent RS polls. The notices are returnable on September 21.Rajput had contended that the votes of two other Congress MLAs should also be discounted as they too had shown their ballot papers to unauthorised persons, and he be declared the winner.