EC should immediately declare elections in Gujarat: Congress

ANI | Updated: Oct 23, 2017 17:58 IST

New Delhi [India], October 23 (ANI): The Congress on Monday demanded the Election Commission (EC) to immediately announce assembly elections in Gujarat.

Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that the EC was unnecessarily becoming a party in the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attempt to run away from the elections.

"Why is the Election Commission becoming a party in the BJP's attempt to run away from the elections? The BJP knows that the ground is slipping away in Gujarat. They are desperate. Every effort - muscle, money, state instrumentality, the Prime Minister virtually shifting the capital from Delhi to Gandhinagar - is being made to somehow retain Gujarat," Tewari claimed.

The opposition has been criticising the EC for not announcing the dates for the Gujarat Assembly elections since October 13 when it announced November 9 as the date for Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls.

The Congress leader further added, "The Election Commission has a Constitutional responsibility; a Constitutional mandate. We demand that the Election Commission immediately declare elections in Gujarat, enforce the Model Code of Conduct to stop all these aberrations and transgressions and the sheer chicanery which is taking place in that state."

The 14th legislative assembly polls in Gujarat are to be held by the end of 2017 as the term of 13th assembly ends on January 22, 2018.

Tewari also highlighted the allegations levelled by Gujarat's Patidar Aarakshan Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Narendra Patel that he was offered Rs. 1 crore to join the BJP and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" over it.

"Rampant allegations of bribery by people affiliated with the movements that the BJP is trying to break are being levelled in the public space. And, all you hear from the Prime Minister of India (Narendra Modi) and the president of the BJP Amit Shah is deafening silence," Tewari alleged.

He further asserted that the BJP was displaying a very unique combination of ignorance, arrogance and downright frustration.

"The BJP is displaying a very unique combination of ignorance, arrogance and downright frustration. In the past 24 hours, this has manifested itself in many ways. First and foremost, the Prime Minister of India, who repeats ad nauseam 500 times a day "na khaaunga, na khaaney doonga (neither will do corruption, nor will allow corruption), does he not know what is happening under his watch in Gujarat? These days he is behaving more as the chief minister of Gujarat rather than the prime minister of India."

Tewari further said that it was incumbent on Prime Minister Modi to investigate the bribery allegations.

"The PAAS is not a political organisation and it is not affiliated with any political party. It's a movement, which is striving for certain goals. Why is the BJP so apprehensive? Why is the BJP trying to coerce, lure, and allegedly bribe the leaders of this movement and trying to break it? Isn't this a clear sign of their frustration? Isn't this a clear manifestation of their demoralisation? One of the leaders of the PAAS, Narendra Patel has come out and openly said that the BJP allegedly attempted to purchase him for Rs. 1 crore and Rs. 10 lakh was paid in advance. Isn't it not incumbent on the Prime Minister, whose mantra is 'naa khaaunga, naa khaaney doonga, to investigate these allegations?" Tewari questioned.

The Congress leader also said that same tactics were used by the BJP, during the recently-held Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, where Congress candidate Ahmed Patel won the seat.

"It doesn't end here. You saw the same allegations of bribery being levelled in the public space by the Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat. The Congress MLAs were coerced, attempts to bribe them were made, every state and Central instrumentality was abused and misused by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the BJP Government. Still in the end, truth and democracy prevailed and the BJP lost," Tewari said.

In the course of the Rajya Sabha elections, many Congress MLAs in Gujarat had resigned from the party, which forced the Congress in July this year to move its 44 MLAs from Gujarat to Karnataka's capital Bengaluru where the party has its own government.

In August, the Income Tax department raided the residence of Karnataka Minister D.K. Shivakumar, and his Eagleton Golf Resort in Bengaluru, where the Congress MLAs were holed up.

Tewary alleged that the same story is now playing it out again in poll-bound Gujarat.

"When the attempts to pressurise movements have failed, the attempts are now being made to bribe them and the Prime Minister of India is silent."

He also found fault with Prime Minister Modi's Gujarat visit on Sunday and alleged that the Prime Minister insulted 6.5 crore Gujaratis by saying "if you don't elect the BJP, I'll shut off your money".

"We would like to ask the Prime Minister of India - is public fund pocket money which is doled out by the Central Government to the state governments? Isn't there a Constitutional formula which is in place for the disbursement of the funds to the state governments?" Tewari questioned.

Due to the ensuing assembly elections, Gujarat is witnessing high voltage political activities these days.

While the ruling BJP is leaving no stone unturned to retain power in Gujarat, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is heading his party's poll campaign in Gujarat, eyeing to dethrone the ruling BJP.

The last Congress government in Gujarat was led by Chhabildas Mehta from February 17, 1994 to March 13, 1995. (ANI)

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