New Delhi/Ahmedabad: Ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, in a major setback to the Congress, two of its MLAs have quit the party, further reducing the numbers in the Assembly. It will now be tough for the party to get the second seat in the Rajya Sabha.
The two MLAs who resigned are — Akshay Patel from Karjan and Jitu Chaudhary from Kaprada constituencies.
Gujatat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said, “Both the Congress MLAs came to me last evening with resignation letters. I verified them, identified their faces by asking them to remove their masks and then accepted their resignations. They are no longer members of the House.”
The Congress has fielded two candidates — Shakti Singh Gohil and Bharat Singh Solanki while Gohil will be getting the first preference vote and is sure to be elected for the Rajya Sabha but the fate of Bharat Singh Solanki whose father Madhav Singh Solanki had been the Chief Minister of the state hangs in limbo. Now only the management skills can get him elected.
Arjun Modwadia, senior leader of the Congress, speaking to IANS, said, “BJP is using money and intimidation to lure away MLAs. Akshay Patel has been lured away as he has business interest in mining.”
The Congress had earlier nominated Rajeev Shukla but was opposed by the state unit and party fielded Bharat Singh Solanki, a former Union Minister.
The Congress needs 71 votes to win both the seats but now the number has reduced after fresh resignations while the BJP needs 106 votes for its three candidates and has the strength of 103 in the Assembly. So the BJP has fished into the Congress to gain the third seat, a party leader said.
Congress sources say it will now depend on Solanki’s management skill, a veteran who can turn the tide in his favour. Last time Ahmed Patel won with his management skills despite Congress MLAs resigning and had said he defeated Amit Shah in numbers game.
The BJP has fielded Rameela Ben Bara, Abhay Bhardwaj and Narhari Amin for three of the Rajya Sabha seats.
Earlier, in March five Congress MLAs had resigned just days after polls were announced and before the lockdown was enforced. These include Somabhai Patel, Praveen Maru, J.V. Kakadia, Mangal Gavit and Pradyuman Singh Jadeja.
The exodus started after the ruling BJP fielded the fifth candidate, Narhari Amin, who is a former Congressman and also a businessman.