Another Gujarat Congress MLA quits; party Rajya Sabha poll plan in disarray
Gandhinagar: Another Gujarat Congress MLA has resigned from the Assembly, Speaker Rajendra Trivedi said Monday, taking the tally of legislators who have quit to five and denting the party's chances of winning two seats in the BJP-ruled state in the March 26 Rajya Sabha polls.
Trivedi informed the state legislative assembly, which is having its budget session, that he has accepted their resignations.
The resignations of MLAs have come just days before the Rajya Sabha polls, in which the Congress was certain to win two of the four seats. However, now the partys chances of winning the second seat seem bleak.
'Five Congress MLAs have given their resignation to me,' Trivedi told the house. 'They are Pravin Maru from Gadhada, Pradyumansinh Jadeja from Abdasa, Soma Koli Patel from Limbdi, JV Kakadia from Dhari and Mangal Gavit from Dang,' he said. I have accepted their resignations, Trivedi said.
Of the five Congress legislators, Gavit submitted his resignation letter Sunday, while the others quit their Assembly membership Saturday.
Heated exchange of words took place between Congress MLAs and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel as soon as the session began Monday afternoon.
Congress MLAs Amit Chavda and Paresh Dhanani accused the ruling BJP of indulging in corrupt practices and being behind the resignations of the five legislators.
On the MLAs submitting their letters to him, Trivedi said it is their right to resign and his duty to accept their resignations. 'What should I do if someone comes to me on his own accord? It is the right of the MLAs to resign. I only have the duty to accept their resignations,' he said.
Chavda, who is also state Congress president, accused Rupani of engaging in corruption and bribery, and for allegedly being behind the resignations of the five MLAs. He referred to a newspaper report to back his claim.
'A newspaper claimed Rs 65 crore exchanged hands at the CM bungalow. Where did the money come from?' Chavda asked.
His party colleague and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said, 'todona (breaking) virus (a pun on coronavirus) created at Kamalam (Gujarat BJP headquarters) took away five political lives.'
Agitated by accusations made by Congress leaders, Deputy Chief Minister Patel demanded an apology. 'Opposition leaders have made accusations against the Chief Minister and Kamalam…we can't take this lightly…(Dhanani and Chavda) should take back their words, and say sorry,' Patel said.
Rupani said the resignations were a result of internal problems within the opposition party and the BJP had nothing to do with them. Corruption of not even a rupee has been made by the BJP, the CM said, strongly refuting Dhanani and Chavda's charges of graft.
The speaker had Sunday said four Congress MLAs resigned Saturday, but he would not disclose their names as assembly was in session and as per rules he has to make the announcement in the house first.
Four Rajya Sabha seats are falling vacant in Gujarat. The BJP has fielded three candidates — Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin - for the biennial elections, while the Congress has given tickets to senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.
Members of a state's Assembly vote in Rajya Sabha elections. In the 182-seat Assembly, the BJP has 103 seats, the Congress 73 (before resignations), while two seats belong to the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and one to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). There is an independent MLA. Two seats are vacant due to court matters.
With the five resignations, the Congress strength has come down to 68.
The BJP requires 108 votes to win three seats, while the Congress needs 72 votes to bag two seats. In the existing scenario, the Congress can secure 68 of its own votes plus one vote of independent candidate Jignesh Mevani, which makes it to 69, less than 72 required by the party to win two seats.
While the BJP, apart from its own 103 seats, is banking on support of two BTP MLAs and one NCP member which will take its tally to 106.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Patel told reporters that 'many more' Congress MLAs may resign.
The Congress has shifted around 40 of its MLAs to a resort in Rajasthan and is expected to take the remaining legislators also to the neighbouring Congress-ruled state Monday night.