Three more Gujarat Congress MLAs resigned, set to join BJP

Three more Gujarat Congress MLAs resigned, set to join BJP

The BJP has fielded its party chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani for the two seats, Congress has renominated Ahmed Patel, who is political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, for the third seat.

Congress suffered another setback in Gujarat on Thursday as three of its MLAs quit the party to join the BJP.

The two legislators who have quit today are Mansinh Chauhan, who was a minister when Mr Vaghela was Chief Minister of Gujarat and Sanabhai Chaudhary.

Earlier, Balwantsinh Rajput, the party's chief whip in the Assembly, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel quit the party yesterday and straightaway joined the ruling BJP.

In all, there are three Rajya Sabha seats for which elections will be held on 8 August.

The Congress has 57 MLAs in the 182-member Assembly and it needs 45 votes to win one Rajya Sabha seat.

It was a signal from Mr Vagehla that the Congress underestimated his ability to damage the party. Union Minister Parshottam Rupala sought to counter the charge saying it was an internal matter of the Congress, whose MLAs, including the leader of the party in the state assembly, were deserting it.

The three resignations from the Congress took place a day after its lone candidate Ahmed Patel filed his nomination for a fifth consecutive term, claiming Vaghela's support.

"Those MLAs who will defect, not vote, leave their membership, join another party, cross-vote or hobnob - all of them are liable under the anti-defection law, which means for six years they can not vote and they can not be MPs and MLAs", the Congress leader added. "All this is being done when Amit Shah himself is a Rajya Sabha candidate".

The BJP is trying to neutralize Patel's chances of being re-nominated in the Rajya Sabha by defecting more than a dozen more MLAs, according to a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named. Recently Gujarat Congress witnessed cross voting in the Presidential elections when 8 of its MLAs voted for the NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and then the resignation of Shankersinh Vaghela was a blow to the party. He was forcibly detained and an attempt was made to give a bribe of Rs 10 crore with allurement to meet BJP president Shri Amit Shah.

"You are stealing MLAs by using the police".

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