Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat scheduled later this month, three Congress MLAs on Wednesday held meetings with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel at Gandhinagar, triggering speculations of defection.
However, these opposition MLAs refuted the rumours and claimed that they went to make a representation about various issues related to coronavirus and lockdown.
Congress legislators Kirit Patel, Lalit Vasoya and Lalit Kagathara met the Chief Minister and his deputy at the state secretariat in Gandhinagar on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked about their sudden meeting with the leaders of the ruling BJP, Kirit Patel, who represents Patan Assembly seat, said none of them is joining the ruling party.
"We went to meet Deputy CM and then Rupani with some demands. During our meet with Nitin Patel, I urged him to expand the bed capacity of Dharpur hospital in Patan so that more number of coronavirus patients from north Gujarat can be treated there," Mr Patel told reporters.
Mr Kagathara and Mr Vasoya said that they demanded withdrawal of cases lodged against people, especially farmers, during the lockdown.
"There is no question of joining the BJP. Vasoya and I met Nitin Patel and the CM, specifically to demand withdrawal of cases lodged against thousands of people for lockdown violations. Many farmers were also booked in such cases. In the coming days, our party is also planning to take up this cause," they said.
The Rajya Sabha election for four seats in Gujarat has been scheduled on June 19. It was supposed to be held on March
26. However, it was eventually postponed for an indefinite period in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and subsequent imposition of nation-wide lockdown.
While the Congress has fielded two candidates, BJP has fielded three, making it difficult for the former to win the second seat.
In March, five Congress legislators had tendered their resignations, days after the elections were announced.
This had further reduced the Congress's chances of retaining both the seats.
In the 182-member Assembly, BJP has 103 MLAs and the opposition Congress 68.
The Bharatiya Tribal Party has two MLAs, and Nationalist Congress Party one.
One MLA is Independent while seven seats are vacant; two due to court cases while five due to the resignations.