Gujarat Congress MLA Virjibhai Thummar, however, denied the resignation reports. (Photo Credit: News Nation)
Trouble mounted for the Congress in Gujarat as five of its MLAs resigned on Sunday even as the party is shifting its lawmakers to Jaipur ahead of the Rajya Sabha election on March 26. According to reports, Praveen Maroo, JV Kakdia and Somabhai Patel are among five MLAs who tendered their resignations.
India Today reported that while Congress took the first batch of 14 MLAs to Jaipur on Saturday, the 4 MLAs were missing. Later, they have resigned.
Gujarat Congress MLA Virjibhai Thummar, however, denied the resignation reports. "Rumours are rife but the party hasn't received any resignation. MLA Somabhai Patel was in touch with Congress till yesterday. I tried but couldn't contact JV Kakadia and another legislator," India Today quoted Thummar as saying.
MLAs like Himmatsinh Patel, Ganiben Thakor, Chandanji Thakor, Rutvik Makwana, Bharatji Thakor, Lakha Bharwad, Nathabhai Patel, Ajitsinh Chauhan, Harshad Ribadiya, Chirag Kalariya and others were seen at Ahmedabad airport, as they arrived to board flights to unknown destinations.
Sources said the MLAs will go in separate groups to Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Talking to the media, MLA Baldevji Thakor said, "For now I am going to Delhi. From Delhi, the party will decide where I will go. We have to go to three to four different places." The Congress' move is to thwart any attempt at cross-voting.
It has fielded senior state leader Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki while the BJP has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin.
As per seat strength in the Assembly, the BJP can win two seats, while it will require cross-voting from Congress MLAs to win the third seat, as this would require 111 votes.
In the 182-seat Assembly, BJP has 103 seats, Congress 73, while two seats are with Bharatiya Tribal party and the Nationalist Congress Party has one. There is one Independent legislator as well.
The Congress will need 74 votes to win two seats. Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Friday extended his support to the Congress.
"My vote will go to the Congress," Mevani said after meeting the two Congress candidates.
The BJP, with 103 MLAs, is banking on support of two MLAs of the BTP, led by tribal leader Chotu Vasava, and one of the NCP, but will still need another five votes.
Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, "As part of strategy, we are shifting some of our MLAs so that the BJP is not able to use state machinery to poach them."
He, however, did not specify the exact number of MLAs or the destination where they will be taken.
(With PTI inputs)