Two Gujarat members of Congress have resigned before Rajya Sabha’s elections on June 19, making it difficult for the party to win more than one of the state’s four seats.
The BJP, with 103 members in the 182-member state assembly, can easily win two of Rajya Sabha’s four seats.
The ruling party has brought in a third candidate, Narhari Amin, a former congressional leader, and it is likely to be a close fight.
To win a seat in Gujarat, any candidate needs at least 34 MLA.
Congress will struggle to win a second seat with the resignation of Jitu Chaudhary and Akshay Patel. The party has 66 members and can comfortably win a Rajya Sabha seat. A second seat has become a challenge after seven resignations; five MLAs resigned in March.
The resignation of two other MLAs in Congress was confirmed by Gujarat Assembly President Rajendra Trivedi, who said that Akshay Patel and Jitu Chaudhary met with him on Wednesday night. “I have accepted their resignations. Now they are no longer legislators,” the president told reporters today.
Of the four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat due to polls, the BJP has three and the Congress one. In addition to Narhari Amin, the BJP has featured Abhay Bhardwaj and Ramilaben Bara. Congress named Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki for the polls.
Congress has to decide who will be their first-choice candidate because that person is likely to win.
To complicate matters, his ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (PCN), has a lone member, Kandhal Jadeja, and it is unclear how he will vote. The PNC recently replaced its Gujarat chief Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was reportedly completely opposed to supporting the BJP.
Congress accused the BJP of trying to divide its ranks.
“The BJP has opened its store to buy MLA from Congress from money accumulated by corrupt means. The BJP is using state machinery and money power to win elections,” argued opposition leader Paresh Dhanani.
Narhari Amin denied the allegations, saying more people are likely to leave Congress and were upset.
“I think some more MLAs in Congress would also resign in the near future. They are leaving Congress because they are not happy with the party’s leadership,” Amin said.
The elections would be held on March 26, but were postponed due to the coronavirus crisis and the national blockade.