Three Congress MLAs join BJP in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: In another jolt to the Congress in Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls, three party MLAs considered close to former opposition leader Shankarsinh Vaghela resigned from the assembly.
The resignation of Balwantsinh Rajput (who was also the chief whip), Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel reduced the Congress’s tally to 54 in the 182-seat assembly.
The development came at a time when the Congress has fielded its senior leader Ahmed Patel as its candidate for the Upper House in the election scheduled for August 8.
All three MLAs submitted their resignation letters to Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora at Gandhinagar.
“Balwantsinh Rajput, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel have given their resignation as sitting MLAs of their respective seats. They now cease to be the members the Legislative Assembly,” Vora told PTI.
The trio can’t vote in the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls as they are no long members of the House, he said.
Rajput represents Siddhapur seat in Patan district, while Tejashreeben Patel was elected from Viramgam in Ahmedabad district. The third MLA, Prahlad Patel, was elected from Vijapur in Mehasana district.
Ahmed Patel, political secretary of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on July 26, filed his nomination papers from Gujarat for the Rajya Sabha polls.
Of the total 11 Rajya Sabha members from the state, the term of three of them — Smriti Irani and Dilipbhai Pandya (both BJP) and Ahmed Patel — is ending on August 18.
The main opposition party also has the support of two NCP legislators and one JD(U) MLA.
Union minister Irani has been re-nominated, while BJP chief Amit Shah will be the other party candidate from Gujarat. Shah is at present an MLA from Gujarat.
After tendering his resignation, Rajput said he was very upset with the Congress due to the allegations being leveled against him.

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