A Congress supporter waving party flag in a rally.
NEW DELHI: Days ahead of the
Rajya Sabha elections
in Gujarat, it may be a deja vu feeling for the Congress. Not just Gujarat, the principal opposition party would be getting reminded of the desertions of its legislators in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh as well.
The election for four seats from Gujarat to the Upper House is scheduled to be held on June 19. It was originally scheduled for March 26 but was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Five Congress legislators had resigned in March itself, soon after the announcements of the elections. That had brought down the number of its legislators from 81 after the December 2017 state assembly elections to 73, with eight having resigned or deserted earlier.
In a spate of continuous desertions, eight Congress MLAs have resigned from their post ever since the Election Commission rescheduled the polls for June 19.
In toto, the Congress has lost 16 of its MLAs due to resignations since March bringing down its strength to 65 now.
The Congress has hit out at Amit Shah. In a tweet in Hindi, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged that
was indulging in horse-trading.
He said, "Our home minister was almost not to be seen ever since coronavirus attacked our country. However, he became active the moment Rajya Sabha elections were announced. Purchases were not taking place for a long time but the markets have opened now. And Amit Shah has come out to trade democracy."
जबसे देश में #कोरोना ने दस्तक दी है,हमारे गृह मंत्री लगभग नदारद थे | पर जैसे ही राज्यसभा चुनावों की घोषणा हुई वो स… https://t.co/Z0JVw1TsGl— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) 1591428616000
On the other hand, the strength of the BJP, which was victorious on 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, has now risen to 103.
Of the four seats, on which elections are being held, the BJP occupies three seats while the Congress has just one.
With each candidate needing 37 first preferential votes to register victory, the Congress would have won two seats in all probability. However, in the emerging scenario, it is likely to win just one seat while the remaining three are likely to be grabbed by the BJP - the same as the pre-election strength.
While the Congress has fielded Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki, the BJP has given tickets to Ramilaben Bara and Abhay Bharadwaj.
Besides these two, the BJP has also fielded a third candidate in former Congress leader Narhari Amin to stymie the Congress’ prospects of winning two Rajya Sabha seats.
Even though the Congress enlists the support of two Bharatiya Tribal Party MLAs, one Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and independent legislator Jignesh Mevani, both its candidates are unlikely to cross the victory post.
In a related development, the NCP has removed
from Gujarat president’s post reportedly due to differences over lending support to the Congress.
Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls 2017
Vaghela had also played an active role in the 2017 when both home minister Amit Shah, who was the BJP president then, and senior Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel had locked horns in the Rajya Sabha election itself then.
As many as 13 Congress MLAs had resigned threatening Ahmed Patel’s chances of getting reelected to the Upper House. Patel had almost lost the election.
He needed 44 votes to come out victorious. The BJP had fielded an extra candidate in that election also.
In a nail-biting finish, he got exactly 44 votes, that too after the Election Commission invalidated the votes of two Congress MLAs for waving the ballot paper to the BJP election agent.
A similar scenario is building up in the forthcoming election.
Not just Gujarat, the Congress has been the victim of defections in the recent years in other states as well.
Last year, the ruling coalition of Janata Dal (Secular) [JDS] and Congress in Karnataka lost power due to rebellion and resignations. As many as 16 MLAs - 13 of the Congress and three of HD Kumaraswamy-led JDS quit to give the BJP a clear edge for forming government.
Eventually, BJP’s BS Yediyurappa succeeded in forming government in July last year with a new spelling - he used to spell his surname as Yeddyurappa earlier.
Madhya Pradesh drama
Similarly in March this year, 22 Congress MLAs resigned and joined the BJP resulting in the toppling of the
government. Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP was sworn in as the chief minister for the fourth time on March 23.
The role of Congress MLAs in different states and their desertions has been embarrassing and creating havoc for the party leadership.