The 11 BJP MLAs who have rebelled against their party are likely to resign their seats on October 31, paving the way for an understanding with the Congress for the Assembly elections in December.
In a late-night meeting on Wednesday, central and state leaders of the Congress decided that these MLAs would be given a choice of re-contesting from the seats they represented in the Assembly or a pick of another half a dozen otherwise "tough" seats where their candidature could boost the Congress's prospects. Those present at the meeting included Union ministers Vayalar Ravi and Prithviraj Chavan, and AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat BK Hari Prasad.
The party high command will take the call on the two rebel BJP MPs — Somabhai Patel (Surendranagar)and Vallabhai Kathiria (Rajkot), Congress sources said.
This is almost a replay of the Maharashtra scenario where the Congress strengthened its base in regions like the Konkan with the induction of Shiv Sena leaders like Narayan Rane.
However, Congress may not work directly with MLAs like G Zadapia, who was home minister during the riots, choosing to work indirectly. "We are aware of the implications of a deal with him," said a Congress leader. Zadapia and senior BJP leaders like Suresh Mehta are part of a new forum — the Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti.
The final call on the MLAs and their constituencies will be taken in consultation with district Congress presidents on October 26.
In a bid to keep these rebels on a leash, the BJP has decided not to expel them. But the MLAs have reportedly told the Congress that they are prepared to resign. They are likely to resign on October 31 — a day after Sonia Gandhi launches her election campaign in the state.