Maha crisis: Congress accuses BJP of 'horse-trading'

Mumbai (IANS) The Maharashtra Congress on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of allegedly attempting 'horse-trading' of its legislators, 24 hours before the tenure of the state Assembly expires on November 9.

"At least half a dozen of our MLAs have received calls from some people claiming to be from the BJP. They are being lured with starting offers of Rs 25 crore each to switch loyalties," Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, Vijay N. Wadettiwar told IANS.

However, he declined to name the legislators who had got such offers or from whom, though Igatpuri MLA Hiraman B. Khoskar confirmed the development.

"Yes, I have been approached by some persons with offers to change my loyalties. However, I told them that I would not betray my party or my voters," Khoskar told mediapersons.

Alarmed by the possibilities of poaching, the state Congress convened an emergency meeting of all its 44 legislators and instructed them to beware of any such tactics that the ruling party may resort to.

"As a further precaution, we have advised them to record all such mega-offer calls or conversations and send them to the leadership. We shall then expose them before the people," Wadettiwar said.

To a question, he said though the party has not yet decided to herd all its legislators at any particular location, by evening a decision may be taken on this.

According to some other office-bearers, the susceptible legislators are likely to be shifted to Jaipur (Rajasthan) or Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) or even Delhi, though the final call is likely to be taken only later on Friday.

The Shiv Sena has already secured all its 56 legislators in Hotel Rangsharda, a modest hotel in southern Bandra and party activists are maintaining a 24x7 watch there.

Stung by the 'poaching' allegations, the BJP on Thursday said it never indulges in such activities and was pained by such statements.

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