Rattled by the resignation of half a dozen of its legislators in Gujarat ahead of the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress on Saturday approached the Election Commission here and demanded a high level probe into alleged poaching of members by the BJP.
The poll panel wrote to the state Chief Secretary and sought a report on the allegations. It also directed the Gujarat government to ensure proper security to all the MLAs and their family members.
A delegation of senior Congress leaders, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Manish Tiwari, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vivek Tankha met the EC and submitted a memorandum.
The delegation asked the EC to "forthwith constitute a high power committee of independent persons/officers to enquire into charges of money power, muscle power and blatant abuse of government machinery for purpose of engineering defection and resignations of Congress MLAs".
The Congress alleged that at least three of its MLAs - Punabhai Gamit (Vyara), Mangalbhai Gamit (Dang) and Ishwarbhai Patel (Dharampur) - have been approached by "BJP and its agents to defect in consideration of monetary allurements".
"The state government, administration and police are being used (for influencing MLAs). It is sad that it is all being done in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Azad, who led the delegation, told mediapersons after meeting the EC.
"We also asked the EC to transfer or suspend all such officials involved in this shameful activity...who abducted, kidnapped our MLAs," he added.
Congress veteran leader and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel is contesting the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat.
Sharma said that the stories of Congress MLAs not being happy with the party and therefore defecting are "not true".
"How come a party that does not have enough MLAs to field a third candidate for Rajya Sabha, steals an opposition MLA and puts that person as a candidate...Such a thing never happened...It's an assault on democracy," Sharma said.
Jolted by the exit of six of its lawmakers since Thursday, the Congress on Saturday herded 44 of its remaining 51 MLAs in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly to Bengaluru.
Late in the evening, EC sources said that the poll panel has sought an enquiry report from the Chief Secretary of Gujarat by 5 p.m. on Monday "on the allegation made in the memorandum submitted by the Congress delegation today".
"Direction has been given to state government to ensure proper security to all the MLAs and their family members," the source said.
The Congress had also raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha on Friday and asked the Chairman to direct the Election Commission to take notice of the matter. The Chair had asked the Congress MPs to approach the EC with their grievances.