On 21st July, it was reported that veteran Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela had officially quit the party. It was also reported that he had resigned from the post of leader of opposition in the Gujarat assembly.
Barely a week has passed and the Congress party is already facing a serious mutiny in the state as its MLAs continue to quit ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections, which are due next month, and assembly elections that are due towards the end of the year.
Thursday saw 3 Congress MLAs named Tejashree Patel, Pl Patel and Chief Whip of the party Balwantsinh Rajput resigning from the party. The trio without wasting any time, went to the BJP headquarters and got its party membership.
The BJP too didn’t waste any time and within minutes declared Balwantsinh Rajput as its 3rd Rajya Sabha candidate from Gujarat. There are rumours that Rajput may be contesting the Rajya Sabha election against Ahmed Patel, who is the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi.
Today, two other Congress MlAs, Chhana Chaudhry and Mansinh Chauhan also decided to switch to the BJP and submitted their resignation to the Gujarat assembly speaker Ramanlal Vora.
This doesn’t seem to be the end of the story as reports are speculating that as many as 16 MLAs might leave the Congress before the Rajya Sabha elections that will take place on 8 August. The report speculated that such a massive defection in the Congress could dearly hurt the re-election chances of Ahmed Patel.
The report might be true to a certain extent as another Congress MLA Raghavji Patel has already announced that he also intends to quit the party and in-turn join the BJP. Interestingly the reason he has sited for his resignation is that the Congress is treating the Patidars as second grade citizens.
Incidentally, Tejashree Patel and Pl Patel too had cited a similar reason before quitting the party. They apparently had stated that the Congress had failed to take a position on Patidars’ demand for reservation.
Now the Congress seems to have gone to panic mode and is trying to somehow prevent more MLAs from defecting. According to reports, the party has started keeping MLAs in secured places. The places as it turns out weren’t very secure as an MLA Bholabhai Gohil has already successfully escaped from one such safe house.
Some of the secure locations include, a farmhouse near Vadodara where 20 Congress MLAs are present, a club and house of Rajkot MLA Indrani Rajyaguru where 8 MLAs (now have become 7) are present.
A similar tactic had been employed by Sasikala in Tamil Nadu where she had taken 130 AIADMK MLAs ‘hostage’. We at OpIndia at that time had given her tips as to how she could prevent them from escaping but she didn’t pay heed. Maybe the Congress would be wiser…