Congressmen try to lay siege to Gujarat Assembly, detained

Gandhinagar,   Over 200 Congress workers, including state unit chief Amit Chavda and state party incharge Rajeev Satav, were detained after they clashed with police while trying to gherao the Gujarat Assembly here as it began its two-day monsoon session on Tuesday.

The rallyists were demanding farm debt waiver and action against the guilty in the Rs 4,000-crore groundnut purchase scam, among other things.

A posse of police stood guard as Congress members and supporters had threatened to lay siege to the Assembly after a gathering of farmers and party workers at Satyagraha Chhavni nearby under the aegis of ‘Khedut Aakrosh Rally’.

After the rally, the protesters led by Chavda and Satav tried to muscle their way towards the Assembly.

“The march to the Assembly and its siege will not stop even if lathis are showered or guns fired,” Chavda told the rallyists.

The march saw minor skirmishes and stone-throwing during which Congress leaders were whisked away in police vans stationed there, including former state party chief Arjun Modhvadia and legislator Harshad Ribadia.

Chavda later said: “Despite large presence of police and its atrocities, thousands of farmers could gather for the rally and give voice to their angst.”

Satav told reporters that with the rally, the Congress has begun a series of agitations against the state’s BJP government and will not stop till a total farm loan waiver for farmers is announced.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party is running away from discussion on key public issues. Gujarat is the only state to have a two-day session, which shows that the ruling party is not interested in public welfare or in democracy,” Satav said. The Congress was demanding a 25-day monsoon session.

Congress legislator Virji Thummar was seen pushing a woman police official as she tried to detain him. Thummar claimed he was unaware he was pushing away the woman, alleging that police present on the spot were acting in a partisan manner.

“I am an MLA and had my identity card around my neck. Yet, I was prevented from going inside the Assembly,” he told reporters, adding that all this while all BJP legislators were allowed inside.

Reacting to Congress allegations, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel reminded the “young brigade” of the Congress of alleged atrocities committed by then Congress governments on state farmers.

“The Congress has done nothing for farmers but fired on them. It is under the BJP rule that the Sardar Sarovar project has progressed rapidly and farmers are getting their dues,” Patel said.

The Assembly will transact business only on Wednesday as it was adjourned on the first day on Tuesday after the members condoled the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and eight former legislators.

It is the second session of the 14th Gujarat Assembly after the December 2017 elections. The Budget session was held in February.