Monday, 16 July, 2018

Gujarat Congress MLAs leave party, join BJP

Amit Shah Gujarat Congress MLAs leave party, join BJP
Christy Curtis | 29 July, 2017, 02:01

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and BJP national president Amit Shah are other two candidates fielded by the party.

The lawmakers, who resigned from Congress, are considered close to Shankarsinh Vaghela, who exited the Congress last week over the party's decision not to project him as Chief Minister in assembly elections due later this year.

Chhanabhai Chaudhary, a legislator from tribal Vansda seat, and Mansinh Chauhan from Balasinor submitted their resignations to Speaker Ramanlal Vora on Friday.

All of these efforts are in view of the August 8, Rajya Sabha elections where Sonia Gandhi's chief political aid Ahmed Patel is up for re-election.

With these resignations, the total strength of the state Assembly has gone down to 176, and Patel would need 46 of the 51 Congress votes to make his Rajya Sabha comeback.

"The Congress MLAs are angry with their party and its ideology. Of course, eventually, he will resign", the source said. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and senior leader Anandiben Patel were also in attendance during the nomination procedure. Speculation is rife that even Rajput could file his nomination papers for the Upper House, hoping to get surplus BJP votes and a slice off the Congress votes meant for Patel.

Vaghela had disassociated himself from Congress on July 21, a day after the presidential poll results revealed that 11 Gujarat Congress MLAs had cross-voted in favour of the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.

The Congress has alleged that the BJP is "stealing" its legislators, with Congress leader Renuka Choudhury claiming that her party's MLAs are being "threatened and coerced to switch sides" to help the BJP candidate win the Rajya Sabha election.

Earlier, Sharma had raised the issue through a point of order saying the Constitution was being violated by the ruling BJP which was using the police to "kidnap" MLAs.

The resignation of two more MLAs on Friday has reduced Congress's tally to 52 in the 182-seat assembly. They later drove to the BJP office in Gandhinagar and joined the saffron party in the presence of its president Amit Shah.

"Similar attempts to buy the loyalty of Congress MLAs Mangalbhai Gavit and Ishwarbhai Patel were made by misuse of muscle power, money power and state power".

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