Crisis deepens for Congress in Gujarat, sixth MLA quits
In a major setback in two consecutive days, three more Congress MLAs from Gujarat submitted their resignations to the Assembly Speaker. Congress MLAs Ramsinh Parmar, Mansingh Chouhan and Chhanabhai Chaudhary resigned on Friday, a day after three MLAs — Balwantsinh Rajput (Sidhpur), Tejashree Patel (Viramgam) and Prahlad Patel (Vijapur) — quit the party to join the BJP.
"I have received the resignation of five MLAs so far," said Speaker of Gujarat Assembly Ramanlal Vora.
This is a jolt for the Congress that has been facing trouble within the party evident in the cross-voting in the presidential election which took place on July 17, and later the exit of its veteran leader Shankersinh Vaghela last week. In the presidential election, the Congress found that eight of its Gujarat MLAs had voted in favour of NDA's Ram Nath Kovind. Meira Kumar could garner the votes of only 49 legislators, against the party's then strength of 57 in the Assembly.
One of the three MLAs, Balwantsinh Rajput, who joined BJP yesterday, was immediately announced as BJP's third candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled for August 8. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the Assembly.
The exit of the six MLAs, which comes just months ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December, has reduced the Congress's tally to 52 in the 182-seat assembly.While each Rajya Sabha candidate needs 45 votes to win, there is speculation that some disgruntled Congress MLAs may cross-vote in favour of Rajput. He will also get the BJP's spare votes — the party has 120 MLAs.