BJP MLA from Manjalpur Yogesh Patel, who had alleged corruption in a housing project of Vadodara Municipal Corporation, seems to be causing embarrassment to the ruling party frequently in the Assembly. Last week, Patel’s questions in the House had put his party in an awkward situation. During a discussion on a question asked by Congress chief whip Amit Chavda related to government lands, Patel sought the list of places where encroachments have been detected. While the question was posed by Patel, Congress leader Chavda repeatedly demanded answer from Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel. Similarly, when Congress MLA Punja Vansh advocated for the setting up of AIIMS in Rajkot, Patel demanded that the hospital be set up in Vadodara so that it could cater the needs of not only patients from Gujarat, but also from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. This annoyed Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel who blamed the Congress for “sowing the seeds of regionalism”.
With the Election Commission announcing the date for electing four Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat whose terms are ending on April 2, the ruling BJP is in a fix. All the four seats are currently occupied by the BJP — Arun Jaitley, Purshottam Rupala, Mansukh Mandaviya and Shankar Vegad. Of the four, three, except Vegad, are Union ministers. But with the reduced strength of the BJP in the Assembly — down to 99— the party can send only two members to the Upper House. Similarly, the Congress with 77 members can send the remaining two members as each contesting candidate will have to gain at least 37 votes to get elected. This leaves both the BJP and the Congress with some surplus votes. “With these surplus members, anybody can go for horse trading. But everything depends on who is going to contest the elections,” a political observer said. So far, neither the BJP nor Congress have declared their candidates for the elections. The last date for filing nominations is March 12.