Three Gujarat Congress MLAs cross over to BJP

Amit Shah

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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 Congress in Gujarat, which was jolted by the exit of six of its legislators in 24 hours, with one more likely to leave, flew off most of the party's remaining MLAs to Bengaluru on Friday night even as it accused BJP President Amit Shah of engineering defections in Gujarat by "money and muscle power".

Currently, Shah is an MLA from Gujarat's Naranpura constituency.

Congress strategists fear more desertions, considering that 11 party MLAs had said to have cross-voted for the BJP-led NDA candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, in the July 17 presidential election.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged that BJP has spent crores of rupess in horse trading to attract the Congress leaders.

"From top to bottom, there is intra-party politicking in the Congress".

After giving his resignation, Mansinh Chauhan said he was exhausted of "internal politics and groupism" in the Congress. Congress, the main opposition party in the Gujarat Assembly, also has the support of two NCP legislators and the lone JD (U) MLA. 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.

This comes when the Rajya Sabha election is around the corner in Gujarat.

"On August 8, election to three Rajya Sabha seats will be held in Gujarat, in which BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are the BJP candidates". Patel was expected to win the third seat comfortably, until Vaghela made a decision to raise the banner of revolt.

The developments come a day after three legislators resigned from the party and joined the BJP. "Nobody in the party listened to our voice and took note of our aspirations", Patel said.

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. She also complained that the Congress was not paying any attention to the Patidars' reservation demand.

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