RS polls: Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Rajput file nominations

RS polls: Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Rajput file nominations

Political drama gets murky in Gujarat

RS polls: Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Rajput file nominations

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and turncoat and former chief whip of Congress in Gujarat legislative Assembly Balwantsinh Rajput, on Friday filed the nominations to August 8 Rajya Sabha polls amidst rising political turmoil in Opposition Congress in Gujarat.

On the day three BJP members filed their nominations in Gandhinagar, the crisis in Gujarat Congress deepened, with three more senior legislators and “original” Congressmen calling it quits from the party. This has seen the total number of legislators in 182-member Gujarat Assembly from 57 to 51.

While it was three North Gujarat legislators who quit BJP and joined BJP, it was turn of three legislators from Central Gujarat - Vansda legislator Chhanabhai Chaudhury, Thasra legislator Ramsinh Parmar and Balasinor legislator Mansinh Chauhan to put in their papers from Congress and quit as legislators by submitting their resignations to Speaker Ramanlal Vora.

The worry for Congress does not end here as more legislators are expected to follow suit of their partymen and move out in the coming few days. Figures of upto 16 more legislators seeking to end their association with Congress were doing rounds in the corridors of power in the state.

This has disturbed the arithmetic for Rajya Sabha polls in the state, especially for Ahmed Patel, the senior Congressman and political secretary of Sonia Gandhi. Patel is seeking fifth term to the Upper House from the state and requires at least 46 first preference votes to make it. BJP, including one dissident legislator Nalin Kotadia, has 122 members, while Congress, including Vaghela, officially now has 51 legislators. If BJP is able to wean away half a dozen legislators more, it may be the end of an era for Ahmed Patel. “We are not targeting Ahmed Patel but our aim is CongressMukt Bharat. Sonia Gandhi runs her party affairs through Ahmed Patel,” Amit Thacker, a BJP leader, said.

Vaghela has already quit the party and announced that he would vote for Patel on July 21 but later threatened to put in his papers if Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot did not withdraw his statement against him. Gehlot had said that Vaghela had quit the party under pressure as CBI and ED had raided his residence.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala called the entire episode to be akin to ‘Divide and Rule’ policy of British. “The new British rulers seem to believe in Divide and remain Arrogant. Indian democracy is passing through the most critical time in its history,” Surjewala told reporters, alleging horse trading by BJP.

The Congress in the state too was seen trying to carry on damage control and were huddled in multiple meetings. They even had formed three informal panels in Rajkot, Anand and Surat to keep their flock together.

Several Congress legislators, including nine from Saurashtra and four from tribal belt in South Gujarat, came out in open to address media alleging pressure and that they were being lured with money and offer to fight Assembly polls as BJP legislators. Some of them claimed that this was being done on behalf of Shankarsinh Vaghela and BJP chief Amit Shah.

This, even as Congress found it difficult to trace some of its legislators since first three legislators left the party on Thursday.

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