Three more Gujarat Congress MLAs resign, party tally down to 51

All three candidates of BJP for RS polls, Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Balwantsinh Rajput will file their nomination on Friday morning at Gujarat Assembly.

The exit of six MLAs, which comes just months ahead of Gujarat legislative assembly elections due in December, has reduced Congress's tally to 52 in the 182-seat assembly.

Three senior Gujarat Congress legislators on Thursday resigned from the party and joined the BJP in a huff, expressing their anger against the Congress for ignoring their aspirations.

Chhanabhai Chaudhary, MLA from Vansda constituency, Mansinh Chauhan from Balasinor, Ramsinh Parmar (Thasra) and C.K. Raolji, a legislator known to be close to rebel Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, submitted their resignations to Speaker Ramanlal Vora. The issue also rocked the Rajya Sabha, which witnessed repeated adjournments as angry Congress members accused the BJP of "stealing" party lawmakers.

In Ahmedabad, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel called the resignations a result of factionalism in the Congress and for choosing Patel again for a Rajya Sabha seat despite opposition in the ranks. 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.

Within minutes of joining the BJP, Rajput was named the party's third Rajya Sabha candidate.

If Shah were to move to the Union Cabinet, who would fill the shoes of the party president?

Two other legislators who resigned from the Congress include Tejashreeben Patel and PI Patel. "The (Rajya Sabha) elections are still 8-10 days away... all options are open to us". "The Rajya Sabha is not the place to protest".

It was alleged that Scheduled Tribe Congress MLA Punabhai Gamit, a three-time legislator, was being threatened and lured. Besides, nine other Rajkot Congress MLAs are believed to have alleged that the BJP had offered them money to switch parties, The Hindu reported. They later drove to the BJP office in Gandhinagar and joined the saffron party in the presence of its president Amit Shah.

Dang MLA Mangal Gavit and Ishwarbhai Patel, another Congress legislator present at the press meet, made similar allegations.