The Gujarat Congress on Monday completed shifting 67 of its 68 MLAs from the state to Jaipur in view of the Rajya Sabha polls on March 26, while five of its legislators have submitted their resignations from the assembly. Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Tuesday urged Speaker Rajendra Trivedi to get these lawmakers screened for the coronavirus when they arrive in Gandhinagar for Rajya Sabha voting on March 26.
BJP leader and Surat MLA Purnesh Modi demanded that on return, these MLAs should be quarantined for 14 days and even barred from the Rajya Sabha voting. Owing to fears of horse-trading, the Congress party has shifted most of its legislators to Rajasthan, where it is in power. Even the remaining MLAs who were not shifted were absent on Tuesday. According to reports, the House discussed proposals from the urban development and general administration departments.
The Deputy Chief Minister said in the House, "We have brought back people from affected countries like China, Japan, and Iran etc. But they (Congress MLAs) have gone from a safe place to an affected area. The Rajasthan government will be responsible if anything happens to them. Now that they have gone, we will have to get them tested on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border on their return."
"It is my responsibility to maintain their good health," added Patel. He then urged the Speaker of the assembly to get these Congress MLAs tested when they arrive in Gujarat Assembly for the Rajya Sabha voting. During the discussion, Purnesh Modi said, "Despite no coronavirus positive case in Gujarat, Congress MLAs have left for Jaipur, where positive cases have been reported. If they get infected, how will they return for the Rajya Sabha elections?
"Congress MLAs returning to Gujarat from coronavirus-affected areas of Rajasthan should be quarantined for 14 days. If they violate these guidelines and arrive directly in the Gujarat Assembly on March 26, who will be responsible?" The BJP MLA demanded that these Assembly members be banned from participating in the Rajya Sabha elections.
In the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly, BJP has 103 seats, Congress 73, while two seats are with Bharatiya Tribal party and the Nationalist Congress Party has one. There is one Independent legislator as well. The Congress decided to shift its MLAs after the ruling BJP fielded three candidates though it can win only two seats out of four as per its strength in the Assembly. Two candidates from Congress have filed their nomination papers.