With the Gujarat assembly elections just round the corner, inter-party defections are taking its toll on the ruling BJP as well as the Congress.
The Congress had declared a major victory when Bhavsinh Rathod, the sitting BJP MLA from Sami-Harij constituency, re-joined it recently. A powerful Thakore leader who wields considerable influence in Patan, he had left the Congress to join the BJP in 2009.
As his seat has ceased to exist after the delimitation exercise, Rathod — who has several criminal cases pending against him — is likely to be fielded against BJP general secretary Shankar Chaudhary in Radhanpur.
Veteran Gujarati actor Naresh Kanodia and his elder brother — well-known musician Mahesh Kanodia — are also set to join the Congress. Naresh Kanodia's actor son, Hitu, is also likely to follow suit.
The Kanodias, who have been with the BJP for several years now, had demanded tickets from chief minister Narendra Modi during a meeting recently. However, Modi gave them the cold shoulder, making them look for other options.
The BJP also appears to be a major gainer in the defection game. After Gandhinagar mayor Mahendrasinh Rana and several councillors from various parts of the state, it was the turn of Congress leader Chandrakant Pithawala to defect to the BJP.
Pithawala, a prominent businessman from Surat and an influential member of the Koli community, is also set to join the BJP. He reportedly met Modi early this week and expressed his desire to join the BJP.
The BJP received another shot in the arm after three former IPS officers — KD Patadia, BK Shrimali and BD Vaghela — and Gujarat Parivartan Party vice president KD Jeswani joined it on Wednesday.
The Congress may lose in the Junagadh municipal corporation due to two corporators, Shehnaz Qureshi and Razak Mahida, defecting to the BJP.