Hours after senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel won the Rajya Sabha elections, the party on Wednesday expelled eight of its MLAs, including former Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, for six years for violation of its whip. The party will also expel six more MLAs in coming days. “Eight Gujarat Congress MLAs have already been expelled from the party. Six more will be expelled from the party for violation of the whip in the Rajya Sabha polls,” said Gujarat Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot.
Asserting that indiscipline will not be tolerated in the Congress, Gehlot said those expelled were indulging in anti-party activities. Gehlot, a former chief minister of Rajasthan, said the party will be strengthened further ahead of the state Assembly elections due later this year.
The Gujarat Congress spokesman Manish Doshi said the eight MLAs were expelled for defying the whip issued by the party and cross-voting in favour of theBJP candidates. The eight expelled MLAs are: Shankarsinh Vaghela, his son Mahendrasinh, Raghavji Patel, Bhola Gohil, Dharmendra Jadeja, P K Raulji, Amit Chaudhary, Karan Patel.
Vaghela, a former Gujarat chief minister, had resigned from the Congress and the post of leader of the opposition in the Assembly weeks ahead of the RS elections, but not from the House. “We have expelled them for six years as they defied the party whip and cross-voted. We will take action against them under the anti-defection law also,” said Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki.
Gehlot also thanked the Gujarat unit of the party for the victory of Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in the RS poll. “It is Congress party’s unity in Gujarat which has ensured Ahmed Patel ji’s victory in Rajya Sabha Polls,” he said.
Bharatsinh Solanki earlier held a meeting of party MLAs in Gandhinagar and thanked them for the victory of Ahmed Patel.
“Just like the united Gujarat Congress defeated the evil designs of BJP in RS Polls, we will fight and defeat BJP in upcoming assembly polls,” he said on twitter.
In a bitterly fought contest, Patel defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party nominee after the Election Commission rejected the votes of two dissident MLAs of the main opposition party for violating electoral rules. Voting for the three Rajya Sabha seats was conducted on Tuesday.
Patel defeated BJP nominee Balwantsinh Rajput, who till recently was the Congress chief whip in the state assembly. He polled 44 votes while Rajput secured 38 votes.
The Rajya Sabha elections had become a high-stakes battle for Congress due to the infighting and resignations. The Congress, alleging that its MLAs were being poached by the BJP, had sent 44 of them to a Bengaluru resort to keep their flock together.