Welcoming five former Congress MLAs — who had quit the party before the just-concluded Rajya Sabha elections — into the saffron fold on Saturday, Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said the Congress party, which supported the “tukde-tukde gang”, has now itself broken into pieces in the state. He said that during his tenure, there had been four such defections from the Congress to the BJP. Two of the former MLAs who joined the party on Saturday fumbled in their speeches mixing up references to the BJP and Congress. Four of the MLAs had formerly been with the BJP before they got elected on a Congress ticket.
In a formal event attended by senior office bearers of the party at it’s headquarters at Kamlam in Gandhinagar on Saturday afternoon, Vaghani welcomed former MLAs J V Kakadiya (Dhari), Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa), both of whom had quit the Congress with three other MLAs after the Rajya Sabha elections were announced in March 2020. Along with the duo, three other MLAs Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada) and Akshay Patel (Karjan) had quit the Congress in the first week of June, when Rajya Sabha polls were just round the corner on June 19. These eight exits since March 2020, not only cost Congress a Rajya Sabha seat, but helped BJP which did not have the required numbers of MLAs to win a third seat in the polls.
Vaghani, who welcomed each of the five former Congress MLAs separately in the auditorium, ensured that it was done in presence of district party leaders of the BJP. Each MLA was welcomed with a saffron scarf. “The BJP has been elected for the sixth time in Gujarat and when the current term finishes in 2022, the party would complete 28 consecutive years or ruling the state,” said Vaghani in his opening remarks at the event where the attendees were asked to wear masks and sit keeping two seats vacant between them.
“The Congress, which is busy supporting the tukde-tukde gang, itself has become tukde-tukde in the state,” he said adding that this was the fourth time in his tenure as party president that Congress MLAs were quitting the party and joining the BJP. He citied 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2020 when Congress MLAs had quit the party in Gujarat and joined BJP.
“This is the fourth time in my tenure that the MLAs have quit the Congress due to the infighting and groupism. There are groups of Ahmed Patel and groups of other states. They will not come to power even in 2022…. They cannot remain united even in opposition, what kind of service will they provide if they come to power? Today the Congress is in a helpless situation… They (the MLAs) have left such a Congress,” Vaghani said welcoming the former Congress leaders and said their addition will strengthen the party at the district level.
When pointed out that the Congress has been accusing the BJP of trying to break the party before crucial elections in the state and cling on to power, Vaghani said, “Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, five MLAs left Congress and joined BJP. In 2017, in order to save one Ahmed Patel, the party allowed 14 MLAs to resign including the Leader of the Opposition (Shankersinh Vaghela). In 2019, five more MLAs left the party and joined BJP and now these MLAs have quit. This has been happening repeatedly and the Congress should close it’s shop in Gujarat.” When asked if the five ex-MLAs who joined the party on Saturday will be given tickets by the BJP to fight the elections, he said it was a decision that the Central Parliamentary Board of the party will take.
When given a chance to react on their joining the BJP, former Congress MLA from Karjan Akshay Patel ended up thanking Amit Chavda (GPCC President) only to correct it to Amit Shah (Union home minister). Similarly, former Congress MLA from Dhari, J V Kakadia said he had quit the “BJP to join the Congress”. He immediately corrected himself and apologised. Kakadia was replying to a question as to how he will be remain loyal to BJP when he could not remain loyal to the Congress.
BJP president intervened during the interaction and pointed out that Pradhuymansinh Jadeja, J V Kakadia and Jitu Chaudhary had earlier worked for the saffron party.
Akshay Patel also alleged that the Congress remembers its MLAs only before Rajya Sabha elections. When asked why he joined the BJP, he said, “I have seen that only BJP can develop this country and so I have joined them.”
Former Congress MLA from Morbi Brijesh Merja said he has joined the BJP as a “soilder.” “I have done work worth Rs 265 crore while in the Opposition and I wish to continue the work here as well,” Merja added. Jitu Chaudhary said he had been associated with Congress for the last 17 years and felt he would be able to deliver more in the tribal areas with his BJP association. “The BJP has been ruling for last 25 years and I feel I will be able to work better for my region with BJP,” said Chaudhary.
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