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Congress distances itself from ‘pledge of allegiance’ for Bengal MLAs

“I do swear my unqualified allegiance to Indian National Congress led by Hon’ble Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi Ji and Hon’ble Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi Ji.”

sonia-and-rahul759 The stamp paper signed by the MLAs had four points. The first stated: “I do swear my unqualified allegiance to Indian National Congress led by Hon’ble Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi Ji and Hon’ble Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi Ji.” (Source: File photo)

A day after The Indian Express reported about Congress MLAs in West Bengal being made to sign an undertaking “swearing unqualified allegiance” to the party led by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the Congress high command sought to distance itself from the move, saying that the AICC had not issued any instructions in this regard.

The decision to make MLAs sign a Rs 100-stamp paper was unanimously agreed upon at a meeting between legislators, district presidents, state party leaders and West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.

On Wednesday, AICC general secretary in-charge of West Bengal C P Joshi had a word with Chowdhury about the undertaking. Later, AICC communication department head Randeep Surjewala said, “I have conferred with Joshi. No instructions in this regard were ever issued by the AICC or by the general secretary in-charge (Joshi).”

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Surjewala said Chowdhury had informed the party high command that it was “a voluntary exercise and nothing more should be read into it”. “Neither is it an exercise in imposing the will of the PCC president,” Surjewala said.

Also Read | Bengal Congress MLAs ‘pledge’ loyalty to Sonia, Rahul: Will ‘2G’ gamble prevent defections?

Surjewala said Chowdhury had told the high command that there was a background to the move. “During the last assembly, 10 Congress legislators were poached in contravention of the rigours and mandate of the anti-defection act. Even otherwise, to violate Constitution with impunity has become fashionable in this country. We saw respected Narendra Modi do it, first in Arunachal Pradesh and then in Uttarakhand, for which the Union government has faced severe reprimand from the Uttarakhand high court and the Supreme Court,” Surjewala said.

“If legislators, by their own volition, get together and reaffirm their commitment to their own party, it is a subject matter that the PCC and the Congress legislature party of West Bengal are able to handle themselves. Nothing more should be read into it,” Surjewala said.

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As reported by The Indian Express, the stamp paper signed by the MLAs had four points. The first stated: “I do swear my unqualified allegiance to Indian National Congress led by Hon’ble Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi Ji and Hon’ble Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi Ji.”

Also Read | TMC MP Saugata Roy takes a dig at Congress’ novel bid to check defection

The second stated: “I, as a member of the legislative assembly, will not get involved in any anti-party activity. Even if I do not agree with any party policy and/or party decision, I will not make any negative comment thereon and/or I shall not take any negative action to the detriment of the party. In such a scenario, I shall resign from my post of MLA before making such comment and/or taking such action.”

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The third point referred to MLAs “abiding by the party guideline” and following “guidelines framed by the CLP leader and the chief whip in the floor of the assembly”, while the fourth confirmed that the first three statements are “true to my knowledge”.

On Tuesday, Chowdhury had told The Indian Express: “It is not a bond which we have forced people (to sign) to take legal action against them if they fail to live up to the conditions. It is more of a voluntary pledge by partymen as a gesture of their allegiance.”

First published on: 25-05-2016 at 10:30:40 pm
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