After the resignation of five Gujarat Congress legislators, the second seat of the Congress has come in trouble as the grand old party will have to either withdraw one nominee or face defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled on March 26.
Congress has fielded senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki while the BJP nominated Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin for the four RS seats.
As per the total strength of 182 in the Gujarat assembly, the Congress with 73 MLAs and the BJP with 109 MLAs were in comfortable positions to elect two nominees each for the Rajya Sabha polls on March 26. However, BJP spiced the race by fielding the third candidates and poaching the Congress legislators.
The five Congress MLAs have submitted their resignations to Assembly Speaker Rajubhai Vakil who is likely to accept it on Monday. With this, the strength of the Congress party in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will come down to 69 from 73.
To avoid further damage and horse-trading, the Gujarat Congress shifted their legislators to Rajasthan. The Congress party needs the first preference of 73 votes for the first nominee while the second nominees need the total 74 votes.
Senior Congress leader and state party observer Rajeev Satav said that the BJP have always indulged in horse-trading during the elections.
"But the people of Gujarat are with us. Earlier also they poached our six legislators including OBC leader Alpesh Thakor but won three seats giving a tough fight to BJP. As long as people of Gujarat are with us, we are not concerned. This crisis is an opportunity for Congress to bounce back once again like we did in 2017 and gave a tough contest to BJP in the state assembly elections where we were close to power," Satav said.
However, sources in Congress said that the party may withdraw its second candidate after defections of their five MLAs. Senior journalist Mayur Parikh, who tracks Gujarat politics closely, said that the BJP is not only fighting to get its third candidate to win the Rajya Sabha polls but planning for the next state assembly polls.
"BJP does not want Congress to grow in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in Gujarat at all. Therefore, all sort of efforts is taken by the BJP leadership to reduce the electoral strength of the Congress by some or other way. Besides, Shah wants to take the sweet revenge of 2017 where Congress leader Ahmed Patel had defeated the BJP leader by one vote only," Parikh pointed out.