Ahmedabad: Five Congress MLAs in Gujarat have now tendered their resignation to Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi ahead of the election to the four Rajya Sabha seats in the state to be held on March 26, prompting the opposition party to shift at least 24 MLAs to Jaipur on Sunday.
While the Congress said not a single “honest” MLA has resigned, state BJP president Jitu Vaghani said if the four legislators have indeed quit, the saffron party will win three seats in the RS elections. Later, the Congress shifted around two dozen of its MLAs to Jaipur fearing poaching.
These moves come as Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi confirmed on Sunday that four Congress MLAs had tendered their resignations on Saturday, all of which had been accepted. Trivedi said he would disclose the names of the four MLAs during the Assembly session on Monday.
“Four Congress MLAs tendered their resignation to me on Saturday, and I will announce their names in the Assembly tomorrow,” the speaker told PTI earlier.
Vaghani said he was informed about the development by the speaker. “Trivedi said that the names of the MLAs who have resigned will be announced in the Assembly on Monday which is in session. MLAs of the Congress have resigned it seems. It means the BJP is winning three seats (in the upcoming Rajya Sabha election),” Vaghani told reporters.
He said the Congress can withdraw its candidates form the RS election fray till Monday. BJP Minister in the state government, Kunvarji Bavaliya, claimed that several Congress MLAs who are not happy with their party are in touch with the BJP. He said several such MLAs are likely to join the ruling party in coming days.
“After the announcement of the Rajya Sabha election, several Congress MLAs who have been in touch with us say they are not happy (with their party). Even the MLAs whom the Congress high command could not contact (for shifting them outside Gujarat) are also preparing to join the BJP,” he said.
In a tweet in Gujarati, Congress leader Paresh Dhanani said not a single “honest” Congress MLAs has resigned so far. With resignation of five MLAs, the strength of the Congress party in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly has come down to 68 from 73.
The five are Pravin Maru from Gadhada, Pradyumansinh Jadeja from Abdasa, Soma Koli Patel from Limbdi, J V Kakadia from Dhari and Mangal Gavit from Dang, the Speaker said.
The Congress had on Saturday shifted its 14 MLAs to Jaipur fearing horse-trading by the ruling BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls. The BJP has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin for the RS election. Given its number in the Assembly, the ruling party can only win two seats unless it manages cross-voting from the opposition camp or ensure defection of Congress MLAs to win the third seat.
The Congress has fielded senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki. The BJP has 103 MLAs in the House. The Bharatiya Tribal Party has two MLAs, followed by one MLA of the Nationalist Congress Party and an Independent.