Congress MLA joins BJP ahead of CWC meet

Virendra Pandit | | Updated on: Mar 08, 2019

Just four days before the Congress Working Committee meet in Ahmedabad on March 12 to chalk out a strategy for the imminent Lok Sabha elections, the dissidence-ridden Grand Old Party suffered a jolt on Friday when its four-time MLA from Manavadar, Jawahar Chavda, “voluntarily” resigned and promptly joined the BJP, amid speculations that more Congress legislators could jump the ship in the next few days.

He is likely to be inducted as a Minister in the BJP government or could contest the LS polls from Junagarh.

Talking to reporters at the BJP headquarters here, he praised Narendra Modi for his leadership and policies. Also, he said he had no complaints in the Congress. However, he said, “I have settled all my accounts in the Congress!”

Chavda is the son of veteran Junagarh Congress leader Pethalji Chavda and is associated with many social and educational institutions. He represents the electorally-important Ahir community in the Saurashtra region and is the Junagarh APMC Chairman. He is the second Congress MLA, after Asha Patel, to resign from the party within three weeks.

Earlier, speculation was rife that Congress MLA Alpesh Thakore, along with some other legislators, could also join the BJP. Thakore was summoned to New Delhi where he met veteran leader Ahmed Patel and AICC in-charge of Gujarat Rajiv Satam on Friday.

Reacting to the development, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said it was for the Congress to introspect and explain why its MLAs and leaders are leaving the party. Chavda’s resignation rattled the Pradesh Congress, which is currently busy with the CWC event.

Leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani regretted the exodus of MLAs and accused the BJP Government with “misusing” power to woo strong Congress leaders to replace its own weak leaders. He alleged that the BJP was trying to “split” the Congress. Shailesh Parmar, Deputy Congress Leader in the Vidhan Sabha, described Chavda’s resignation as “shocking”, adding the latter never “indicated” he was unhappy.

Since the December 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, in which the BJP won a trimmed down 99 seats against the Congress’ increased tally of 77 in the 182-member House, the GOP has lost four MLAs. Veteran Koli leader Kunwarji Bavalia, who resigned from Jasdan seat (and later won it back on the BJP ticket last year), was promptly made a Cabinet Minister in July 2018. About Chavda’s resignation, he said that more Congress MLAs could quit soon as the GOP had failed to retain its real leaders who matter.

Asha Patel resigned her Unjha seat and joined the BJP in February. Bhagabhai Barad, Talala MLA, was convicted and slapped with a prison term by a court recently in a 1995 mining case. He was suspended from the Vidhan Sabha recently and faces disqualification.

Published on March 08, 2019
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