Three Congress MLAs join BJP in Gujarat, one to fight Rajya Sabha polls

The exit of the three MLAs, which comes just months ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December, has reduced the Congress’s tally to 54 in the 182-seat assembly. While each Rajya Sabha candidate needs 47 votes to win, there is speculation that some disgruntled Congress MLAs may cross-vote in favour of Rajput.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: July 28, 2017 9:18 am
 Congress, Gujarat Elections, Shankersinh Vaghela,BJP, Rajya Sabha Elections, India news, Indian Express Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani welcomes Congress MLA P I Patel as he joins BJP in Gandhinagar on Thursday. (PTI Photo, File)

After the cross-voting in the presidential election and the exit of veteran leader Shankersinh Vaghela last week, the Congress suffered another setback in Gujarat on Thursday as three of its MLAs — Balwantsinh Rajput (Sidhpur), Tejashree Patel (Viramgam) and Prahlad Patel (Vijapur) — quit the party to join the BJP. The BJP immediately declared Rajput, who was the Congress’s chief whip in the Assembly, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled to be held on August 8. Its other two candidates are party chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani.

This has injected an element of uncertainty in the re-election of Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who filed his nomination papers on Wednesday.

The exit of the three MLAs, which comes just months ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December, has reduced the Congress’s tally to 54 in the 182-seat assembly. While each Rajya Sabha candidate needs 47 votes to win, there is speculation that some disgruntled Congress MLAs may cross-vote in favour of Rajput. He will also get the BJP’s spare votes — the party has 120 MLAs.

Tejashree Patel said she had left the Congress as the party had decided to field “outsider” Khodabhai Thakore, father of OBC leader Alpesh Thakore, from Viramgam. “I felt very bad because it amounts to insulting a sitting MLA,” she said. Complaining of infighting within the party, she said that “there is no control over indiscipline in the party”.

She also targeted the party’s inaction on the Patidars’ reservation demand. “For the last one-and-a-half years, I have been saying that Patidars are upset with the Congress, and the party should reach out to Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leaders, but no initiative was taken by the leadership,” she said. “BJP is the ruling party in the state, and I feel I can serve the people better by being a part of the ruling party,’’ she added.

While Prahlad Patel declined to comment on his resignation, Rajput, whose son is married to Vaghela’s granddaughter, could not be contacted. In his resignation letter sent to Sonia, Rajput said: “I have worked sincerely for the party since 1982 but for the last few years, the Congress party has been trying to harm my reputation through my colleagues intentionally. Some party colleagues have tried to hurt my reputation in the party due to my family relations with Shankersinh Vaghela.”

Reacting to the development, Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat, said it was “a conspiracy of the BJP”. He expressed confidence that Ahmed Patel would win the Rajya Sabha election.

“After ruling Gujarat for 20-plus years, if the BJP relies on the defection of a few Congress MLAs to stay in the fight for the 2017 polls, it says a lot about the party’s ‘development’ and ‘people friendly policies’,” said Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki.

Meanwhile, Congress sources said another four of its MLAs were likely to join the BJP. In the presidential election, the Congress found that eight of its Gujarat MLAs had voted in favour of NDA’s Ram Nath Kovind. Meira Kumar could garner the votes of only 49 legislators, against the party’s then strength of 57 in the Assembly.

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  1. S
    sagar
    Jul 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm
    gujarat is most under-developed state, which is under flood- where is khushboo in gujarat- BJP is bluff master and Congress is unaware, they can not see flood and question BJP- instead congress MLAs joining BJP- are they really suitable to go for Rajya sabha? Bluffers and opportunity total in play. Can not protect human or rescue people- where is MR vaghela?
    Reply
    1. S
      sagar
      Jul 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm
      dear mlas, you have to fight flood, not seats and not jump from Congress to BJP. Khushboo gujarat ki is in question- what has BJP and Modi done all these years- no development- modi was talking of gujarat model- is this is a developed state under modi? MLA are not worried about flood and plight of thousands of people in flood-what a state of apathy it is? Why people has jumped to BJP- > pls save gujarat and not the seat. NO use, this is opportunism and betraying Gujarat itself
      Reply
      1. R
        rohan
        Jul 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm
        Congress youktha BJP RSS Muktha BJP !
        Reply
        1. A
          Amit
          Jul 28, 2017 at 11:24 am
          Good move. Ahmed Mia should find more time now to apply oil on Sonia's head.
          Reply
          1. P
            Pluto
            Jul 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm
            on head?? are you sure?? hahahaha
            Reply
          2. T
            Theeagu
            Jul 28, 2017 at 10:11 am
            By taking Congress people what BJP is trying to say? People are watching. Actually there is no BJP or MODI wave in the country. Opposition is not strong enough to take on them. This is the strength of MODI. More over BJP adopts threat through establishments wherever voice against it comes. How long you will do politics in the name of religion? Every Indian is Indian. No cast , creed, colour, sect, region and religion divide us. Globally other countries are gaining strength by unity. Let us jointly work for our country. Forget hate. Ignore people who preaches it.
            Reply
            1. P
              Pradeep Raghavan
              Jul 28, 2017 at 10:01 am
              Actually its good for Congress. Those who are power hungry and not loyal with their party can leave. This will help Congress to rejuvenate, bring fresh young faces. It's bad for BJP that such useless people are joining them and making Congress-Yukt BJP.
              Reply
              1. G
                Gopal Sriniwasan
                Jul 28, 2017 at 9:54 am
                The Italian Bar Maid who thought of RULING India through spineless Hindu Khangressis and the likes of Ahmad Patel finally has found, that she is no match to the Wily Amithbai. Recall,the one vote she used to unseat Vajpayee. EVILS of her past political misdeeds have come back to haunt the Waitress
                Reply
                1. P
                  Pradeep Raghavan
                  Jul 28, 2017 at 11:47 am
                  Waitresses are better than railway platform's chaiwalas!
                  Reply
                  1. I
                    Indian I
                    Jul 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm
                    What did waitress do other than scam. Of course one more thing killing tamils in Sri-Lanka in govt supported genocide.
                    1. G
                      Gopal Sriniwasan
                      Jul 28, 2017 at 12:24 pm
                      Did the waitress give you some freebies?
                  2. M
                    module
                    Jul 28, 2017 at 9:52 am
                    No body bother, how about the flood situations in Gujarat. now a days Politics has become so crazy that, they only power, positions and money. There is nothing called Gujarat model or improvement. Why so much unemployment, worse situations after flood, strikes after GST, business sectors collapsed, so much caste problem, frequent electricity load seeding, why there is conflicts among Patel groups? How long one can cover lies !!
                    Reply
                    1. P
                      Pradeep Raghavan
                      Jul 28, 2017 at 11:48 am
                      The flood situation is the result of 22 years long rule of Feku and his chamchas!.
                      Reply
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