In a jolt to the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Unjha MLA Asha Patel on Saturday resigned from the Assembly as well as from the party membership, citing “infighting” in the party.
Patel submitted her resignation to Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi in Gandhinagar, which has been accepted, sources said.
In a letter to party president Rahul Gandhi, Patel wrote that she has resigned from the party due to “prevalent infighting” and “because the leadership has been ignoring me”.
“There is a lack of connection between the MLAs and the party organisation… I felt that there is no opportunity for my future growth in the party and therefore, I resigned,” she added.
Patel also claimed that her representations regarding the state of affairs in the Gujarat unit have not been heeded since last year. “I had taken up the matter with AICC general secretary and party’s Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav, and also senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in Delhi, but my efforts yielded no results,” she said.
However, state Congress leadership rubbished her allegations that her complaints were not heard. “She must know that she became MLA on Congress ticket only. Had she been neglected by the party, why should she have been given ticket at the first instance by the party… If she really did not want to stay in the party, she was always free. But allegations against the party leadership is baseless… Till yesterday, she had not made any representation to the party (about her grievances),” state Congress chief Amit Chavda said.
According to Congress leaders, Patel, a first-time MLA, attended a meeting of the party MLAs at state Congress headquarters on Saturday evening to chalk out the party’s strategy in the forthcoming session of the Assembly. A Congress MLA, who had attended Saturday’s meeting told The Indian Express that Patel did not give even an inkling that she might resign from the party.
Patel’s exit is seen as a blow to the Congress as she had snatched Patidar-dominated Unjha seat in Mehsana district from the BJP in 2017 Assembly polls. Unjha is one of the seven Assembly constituencies that are part of Mahesana Lok Sabha seat, currently held by the BJP. Of the seven segments, the BJP holds four while the Congress three, including Unjha.
The Congress had won the seat for the first time in 2017 since 1972 after Patel, a college teacher, wrested the seat from BJP in the aftermath of the Patidar reservation movement. She had, however, lost from the seat in 2012 Assembly polls.