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BJP Nets 3 Congress MLAs in Gujarat to Block Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha Entry

Balwantsinh Rajput, who is a relative of Shankersinh Vaghela, will be fielded by the BJP against Sonia Gandhi's adviser Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Updated:July 27, 2017, 11:58 PM IST
Ahmedabad: In a major setback to Gujarat Congress, three senior legislators said to be close to Shankersinh Vaghela resigned on Thursday and joined the BJP in the midst of a Rajya Sabha poll battle.

Among those who have resigned is Balwantsinh Rajput, the Congress Chief Whip in the Gujarat Assembly. Rajput, who is a relative of Vaghela, will be fielded by the BJP against senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is the political adviser to Sonia Gandhi, for the Rajya Sabha polls. Rajput is expected to file his nomination on Friday.

In his resignation letter, Rajput, said he was being targeted by former party colleagues because of his proximity to Vaghela. He said the party's alleged inability to control such persons showed "lack of power" in the party’s leadership.

"For the last few years, the Congress party has been trying to harm my reputation through my colleagues intentionally. Some party people have tried to hurt my reputation in the party due to my family relationships with Shankarsinhji Vaghela," Rajput wrote.

The two others who quit are Tejashree Patel and Prahlad Patel. They submitted their resignation to Speaker Ramanlal Vohra on Thursday. Both are likely to switch to the BJP. Tejashree Patel was even present on Wednesday when Ahmed Patel filed his nomination papers.

The string of resignations by Congress MLAs in Gujarat have rocked the state politics and are sure to dent party morale ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections slated next month.

Three seats are up for grabs from Gujarat in the biennial elections. BJP has already named two candidates for the two assured seats- party president Amit Shah and I&B Minister Smriti Irani.

If more than three candidates are in the field, MLAs will have to make a choice to elect their representatives to the council of the states through preferential voting. Any cross voting by Congress MLAs may impact Patel's chances in the elections to enter the upper house. Eleven Congress MLAs had earlier voted against Meira Kumar in Presidential Elections earlier this month.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
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