Three more Gujarat Cong MLAs resign, party tally down to 51

Three more Gujarat Cong MLAs resign, party tally down to 51

Three more Gujarat Cong MLAs resign, party tally down to 51

In a rude jolt to the Congres in Gujarat, three more of its MLAs resigned today taking the number of legislators who quit to six ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, for which the party has fielded its heavyweight Ahmed Patel.

The erosion from its legislature party has cast a shadow on the fate of Patel as his party has to zealously guard against further desertion of MLAs to ensure his victory in the election due to be held on August 8. Patel, 67, is the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and has been re-nominated by the party.

Besides the six legislators who already quit, two more MLAs have threatened to sever ties with the party.

Mansinh Chauhan, the Congress MLA from Balasinor in Mahisagar district, handed his resignation to Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora this morning.

Chhanabhai Chaudhary, the party legislator from Vansda in Navsari district, gave his resignation to the Speaker at the latter's residence last night, while Ramsinh Parmar, MLA from Thasra in Anand district quit today from the Congress party and as MLA.

With this, the Congress's tally has come down to 51 in the 182-member assembly.

After giving his resignation, Mansinh Chauhan said he was tired of "internal politics and groupism" in the Congress.

"I am in the politics because of Shankersinh Vaghela. I was in the BJP earlier. Then, I joined the Congress after Vaghela's party merged with it in 1998. Since then, many of us were waiting for the Congress to form the government. However, it never happened," Chauhan said.

"Instead of focusing on winning elections, Congress leaders always indulged in internal politics. Groupism was also rampant. Thus, I was left with no option other than to resign. I will take the decision to join the BJP later, after consulting Vaghela and other supporters," he said.

Ramsinh Parmar claimed that he did not quit the party keeping the Rajya Sabha polls in mind.
"My resignation has nothing to do with the Rajya Sabha polls. Since I had been in the opposition for the last 22 years, people of my constituency were complaining that developmental works were not taking place. Therefore, I decided to resign as the MLA," Parmar said.

He, however, said that the question of joining BJP does not arise at this point.

The Congress is already rattled in the state, where the Assembly elections are due later this year, with Vaghela breaking ranks with the party last week.

Yesterday, three party MLAs, considered to be close to Vaghela, quit the Congress and joined the BJP, which quickly declared one of them its candidate for next month's Rajya Sabha polls against Congress veteran Ahmed Patel.

Balwantsinh Rajput, the party's chief whip in the Assembly, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel yesterday resigned from the House and also all party posts. They later drove to the BJP office in Gandhinagar and joined the saffron party in the presence of its president Amit Shah.

Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani have entered the fray as the BJP candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls.

Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three -- Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel -- is coming to an end on August 18. Patel filed his nomination papers on Wednesday.

Within hours of Rajput's induction, the BJP, seeking to queer the pitch for Ahmed Patel, fielded Rajput as its third candidate from Gujarat, hoping to cut into the votes of the Congress nominee.
Rajput's son is the husband of Vaghela's granddaughter.

Patel can sail through if he musters the support of 47 MLAs and the party is able to arrest further desertions from its legislative arm. Congress, the main opposition party in the Gujarat Assembly, also has the support of two NCP legislators and the lone JD(U) MLA.

The presidential election had seen cross-voting by Congress MLAs as the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar could garner votes of only 49 legislators against the party's then strength of 57 in the Assembly.

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