Left red-faced by the resignation of five of its MLAs, which has dimmed its hopes of grabbing a second Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat, the Congress’s state leaders met the national leadership in Delhi late Tuesday to decide the next step.
The party now has only 68 MLAs while its two candidates — Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki — need 36 legislators’ votes each to win on March 26.
The Congress is counting on support from the NCP, although its lone MLA Kandhal Jadeja had voted for the BJP in the 2019 bypoll, Independent candidate Jignesh Mevan or Bharatiya Tribal Party’s Chhotu Vasava and son Mahesh Vasava.
Sources told The Indian Express that the party’s ranks are currently divided on whether to withdraw one of its candidates from the fray to save face. “But technically, we are short of just one if we count Mevani’s vote, so it is likely that the party high command will decide that both our candidates will contest,” sources said.
On Tuesday, Solanki came under the spotlight after a video began doing the rounds in which the wife of J V Kakadiya, the Congress MLA from Dhari, is purportedly heard claiming that her husband submitted his resignation at the behest of the Rajya Sabha candidate.
The contents of the video, however, could not be independently verified; Kakadiya, his wife Kokilaben and Solanki were not available for comment.
With all the 68 MLAs holed up in Jaipur, state Congress chief Amit Chavda, Legislature Party leader Paresh Dhanani, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat Rajiv Satav, and special observers B K Hariprasad and Rajni Patil, were present in the Delhi meeting, sources said.
Chavda, incidentally, is a cousin of Solanki. Satav is a Rajya Sabha candidate from Maharashtra.
Party sources, meanwhile, traced the latest woes to the announcement by the BJP of former Congress leader and Patidar veteran Narhari Amin as its third candidate. Senior leader Gaurav Pandya had warned at the time that Amin may still have “personal relations with some Congress MLAs”.
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