Three Gujarat Congress MLAs cross over to BJP

BJP president Amit Shah is currently a Gujarat MLA

Many more are expected to leave, after veteran leader Shankersinh Vaghela announced his resignation as Congress Legislative Party leader on 21 July.

Chhanabhai Chaudhary, the party legislator from Vansda in Navsari district, gave his resignation to the Speaker at the latter's residence last night, while Ramsinh Parmar, MLA from Thasra in Anand district quit today from the Congress party and as MLA.

All three MLAs - Congress chief whip in the Gujarat Assembly and Siddhpur MLA Balwantsinh Rajput, Virmagam MLA Dr Tejshri Patel, and Vijapur MLA Prahlad Patel - said they were unhappy with the turbulence in the Congress. However, reports suggests that more resignations are expected in the run up to the Rajya Sabha polls on 8 August, making things extremely hard for Patel.

Congress leaders are keeping their fingers crossed over Patel's victory as MLAs of Janata Dal (United) may, in the changed situations, not go his way.

The developments come a day after three legislators resigned from the party and joined the BJP. Senior Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Sonia Gandhi, were huddled in a hotel to discuss a strategy to minimise the damage, sources said. Speculation is rife that even Rajput could file his nomination papers for the Upper House, hoping to get surplus BJP votes and a slice off the Congress votes meant for Patel.

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The resignations of these MLAs also comes in the wake of cross-voting by at least 11 Congress MLAs in the recent presidential election. "Therefore, this shows the frustration of party MLAs", BJP leader Bharat Pandya told ANI. Rajya Sabha is not the place to protest.

Meanwhile, Congress launched a scathing attack on the BJP for attempting to try and poach its MLAs by hook or by crook.

It was alleged that Scheduled Tribe Congress MLA Punabhai Gamit, a three-time legislator, was being threatened and lured.

After resigning from the House and also all party posts, they had driven to the BJP office in Gandhinagar and joined the saffron party in the presence of its president Amit Shah.

In a late damage control after seven MLAs from Gujarat resigned from Congress in last 48 hours, the party shifted its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru, to prevent, what they call horse trading ahead of a crucial election in the state.