Ahmed Patel faces tough Rajya Sabha poll as more will quit: Gujarat Congress MLA
Congress flew most of its Gujarat MLAs out of the state in a midnight flight to Bengaluru on Friday, an apparent attempt to keep the flock together after a string of resignations rocked the party.india Updated: Jul 29, 2017 10:33 IST
The Congress will find it tough to re-elect senior leader Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha after a string of defections by party lawmakers in the state, a senior Congress leader has said, indicating he too could resign and join the BJP.
Congress MLA Raghavjee Patel, considered close to former party strongman Shankersinh Vaghela, said more opposition lawmakers in Gujarat are likely to resign in the coming days.
The Congress has been jolted in Gujarat after at least six MLAs switched over to the saffron party, barely months before crucial assembly polls in the state, where it is out of to power for the past 22 years.
“The state party leadership, along with Congress high command, is responsible for whatever is happening right now. In the coming days, around 20 Congress MLAs would sever ties with the party. Thus, it will be impossible for Ahmed Patel to win the Rajya Sabha polls,” Raghavjee told reporters.
“When I met Ahmed bhai recently, I cautioned him about this situation and urged him not to contest polls, as I already saw this coming. I firmly believe the Congress cannot win the Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat,” said the MLA from Jamnagar (rural) seat.
Patel, a Rajya Sabha member since 1993, is also the political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He filed his nominations for the August 8 polls this week.
Patel’s opponent, Balwantsinh Rajput, is also a former Congress MLA who joined the BJP recently.
“Since there are only two main parties in Gujarat, the BJP is the only option for me if I leave the Congress. I have already had a word with BJP national president Amit Shah and state president Jitubhai Vaghani and conveyed my wish to join the party,” Raghavjee added.
Another Congress MLA from Jamnagar, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, also indicated he would leave the party.
“A large number of Congress workers are unhappy with the way the party is functioning. Though I and Raghavjee had made numerous representations about it in the past, the party high command has not given any satisfactory answer. I will take appropriate decision in coming days,” he said.
In the 182-member assembly, the strength of Congress has gone down to 51.
Of the total 11 RS members from the state, the term of three of them -- Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel – will end on August 18.
The Congress has accused the BJP of using “money and muscle power” to engineer the defections.
The party on Friday flew 44 of its MLAs to Bengaluru to stop more of them from switching over to the BJP.