Gandhinagar, July 27 (IANS) 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.
Balwantsinh Rajput, MLA from Siddhpur and Chief Whip of the party, Tejashree Patel from Viramgam, and Vijapur legislator P.I. Patel submitted their resignations to Speaker Ramanlal Vora on Thursday afternoon and later headed for the BJP headquarters, Kamalam, to join the party.
Within minutes of joining the BJP, Balwantsinh Rajput was named the third Rajya Sabha candidate of the BJP, besides national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Rajput was already rumoured to be planning to contest the Rajya Sabha election against official party nominee Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Balwantsinh Rajput’s daughter is married to Mahendrasinh, the son of rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela. Mahendrasinh is an MLA.
All three MLAs are believed to be close to Vaghela, who quit as Leader of Opposition on his birthday on July 21 alleging that there was an intra-party conspiracy to oust him from the Congress.
Tejashree Patel and P.I. Patel asserted that the Congress had failed to take a position on the demand of the Patidars (Patels) for reservation to the community in government jobs and educational institutions.
“I have resigned from the Congress with a very heavy heart. I have worked for the party for 25 long years,” Tejashree Patel, a firebrand woman leader and one of the most active legislators of the Congress in the state Assembly, bemoaned.
“From top to bottom, there is intra-party politicking in the Congress. The party never took a clear position on the aspirations of the Patidars,” she said. “I have joined Narendra Modi’s journey of development,” she added.
Similarly, P.I. Patel also said, “The Congress has done injustice to the Patels.”
Balwantsinh Rajput echoed Tejashree Patel and said, “Modi is Vikas Purush.”
Rajput and P.I. Patel are from the North Gujarat constituency of Vijapur. Vaghela hails from North Gujarat too.