NEW DELHI :
Internal feuds in the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) in Gujarat, have given an edge to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from the state scheduled for 19 June.
The Congress, which has 65 MLAs, has moved its legislators to resorts across the state and in Rajasthan, fearing defections. A senior party leader said 2-3 more MLAs could resign ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. The NCP, too, is facing dissent.
This has put the BJP, which has 103 MLAs in the 182-member assembly, ahead.
“These are all efforts by the Congress to blame the state government ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls. However, this will not help, as the people of Gujarat have consistently rejected the Congress for the past 25 years. The BJP has the most MLAs and we are confident of performing well in the Rajya Sabha polls,” said a senior BJP leader based in Ahmedabad.
This is the second time since March that the Congress is facing resignations in the state before Rajya Sabha polls. As many as five MLAs had resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in March. Similarly, during the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress had lost six legislators, including former chief minister Shanker Sinh Vaghela.
The Congress had won 77 seats in the 2017 assembly elections, but resignations and dissent in the party have brought the number down to 65. The exits have also ensured more by-elections to fill up vacant assembly seats.
Vaghela has been removed by the NCP, which now has just one MLA in the Gujarat assembly. The former chief minister has decided to launch his own party in Gujarat and contest all municipal elections, panchayat elections, and assembly polls.
The developments increasingly point not only to Congress’ inability to keep its flock together, but also its failure to pursue like-minded parties, such as BTP. “We had BTP’s Chotu Vasava on our side, but he was upset over by-polls. His party has two MLAs and everything counts,” he added.