RS Polls: Tough fight for senior Congress leader Patel in Gujarat

Just two weeks ahead of crucial Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, Opposition Congress suffered another jolt on Friday after two more MLAs quit the party. With these resignations, the party has already lost five legislators.

Manish Chauhan, the Congress MLA from Balasinor, Chhanabhai Chaudhary, the party legislator from Vansda, gave their resignation to the Speaker.  Now, the Congress’s tally has reduced to 52 in the 182-seat assembly.

The situation is giving a tough time for the party that has fielded its most important and senior leader Ahmed Patel for the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled to be held on August 8.

Ahmed Patel with Gujarat Congress leaders

Ahmed Patel with Gujarat Congress leaders

The Congress has re-nominated Ahmed Patel, political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi. The 67-year-old Congressman filed his nomination papers on Wednesday

The Congress is already rattled in the state, where the Assembly elections are due later this year, with veteran leader Shankarsinh Vaghela breaking ranks with the party last week.

Earlier, Balwantsinh Rajput, the party’s chief whip in the Assembly, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel quit the party on Thursday and straight away joined the ruling BJP.

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.

Bhartiya Janta Party President Amit Shah handovers his nomination for Rajya Sabha election to election officer BM Patel in Gandhinagar

Bhartiya Janta Party President Amit Shah handovers his nomination for Rajya Sabha election to election officer BM Patel in Gandhinagar

Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani are the other two BJP candidates for the August 8 RS elections. Both of them have filed their nominations on Friday morning.

Union minister Smriti Irani files her nomination for Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, in Gandhinagar

Union minister Smriti Irani files her nomination for Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, in Gandhinagar

Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three — Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel — is ending on August 18.

The ruling BJP has 121 legislators and the Congress party is down to 51 now. The Recent resignation of Waghela and five Congress MLAs will bring down the effective strength of the Assembly that is gearing up for Rajya Sabha polls.