NEW DELHI: Days ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections in the state, trouble is brewing for the Congress party in Gujarat. Not only two of its legislators have resigned and two have gone incommunicado, but also the state unit is facing infighting.
With three candidates of incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two from Congress in the fray, the voting for four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat promises to be a cliffhanger.
The Congress has been out of power for nearly 25 years in the state. The party’s tally in the 182-member assembly is 66 compared with BJP’s 103.
“I have accepted their resignations. They now cease to be legislators,” Gujarat Assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi told reporters in Gandhinagar on Thursday.
Congress MLAs Akshay Patel from Karjan seat and Jitu Chaudhary from Kaprada had handed over their resignations on Wednesday. In March, five Congress MLAs had resigned.
Senior leaders pointed out that at the current strenght, the party can effectively win one Rajya Sabha seat.
Congress had won 77 seats in the 2017 assembly elections, but have steadily lost them.
“In our reading, atleast two more of our MLAs are currently incommunicado and we are expecting that they too could resign. It is clear that BJP is behind all that is happening,” a senior Congress leader from the state said requesting anonymity.
For the four seats in Gujarat, BJP has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramilaben Bara and Narhari Amin, while Congress has pitched Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.
“We fielded two candidates and there was a view that one of them should resign to reduce the political complications. However, there is a divide there also as most MLAs are split in two camps. One of them will get elected, but we will have to wait and watch. Clearly, internal problems exist which is making it easier for others to create rift,” the leader quoted above said.
The ruling BJP has, however, said, Congress leaders were leaving because the party lacks credible leadership both in the state and at the national level.
“It is for the Congress leadership to manage the MLAs of the party. BJP has 103 MLAs and we are confident of winning majority seats in the Rajya Sabha elections,” said a senior BJP leader based in Ahmedabad.