The Congress has 65 and is certain of getting the vote of Jignesh Mewani. However, its alliance partner in Maharashtra, the NCP, is not sure whether its lone MLA Kandhal Jadeja would vote for the Congress. FILE PHOTO
There was a time the Congress had dreamt of forming a government in Gujarat on the back of a relatively good performance in the Assembly elections in 2017 when it won 77 seats and succeeded in bringing the BJP’s total below 100. It was the first time the BJP’s tally dipped to the two-figure-mark since it came to power in 1995.
Today, the BJP has 103 MLAs and the Congress 65. The opposition party, which has lost 12 MLAs via defections to the BJP, is now fighting to keep its flock together. And it has only itself to blame.
On Monday, the party moved 20 MLAs to a resort in Rajasthan fearing more defections ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections
due on June 19. The Gujarat assembly will vote to elect four Rajya Sabha MPs.
The Congress’ problem in Gujarat began in 2017 when party president Sonia Gandhi’s political advisor Ahmed Patel sought re-election to the Rajya Sabha from the state. Then BJP president Amit Shah
was also in the contest along with Union Minister Smriti Irani.
On that occasion, six Congress MLAs had resigned and nine others did not vote for Ahmed Patel, who barely scraped through.
Almost the same script is playing out now. The Congress and the BJP have enough MLAs to ensure two Rajya Sabha candidates each. One candidate needed 37 first preference votes. The Congress had got assurance from Independent MLA Jignesh Mewani. Now, eight Congress resignations later, the required first preference votes is 34.
The Congress has 65 and is certain of getting the vote of Jignesh Mewani. However, its alliance partner in Maharashtra, the NCP, is not sure whether its lone MLA Kandhal Jadeja would vote for the Congress.
The NCP replaced Shankersinh Vaghela as the Gujarat unit chief with Jayant Patel. Jadeja has enjoyed close equation with Vaghela, a veteran of Gujarat politics.
This situation is fragile for the Congress and offers the BJP a chance to retain its three of the four Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant in Gujarat.
The BJP has fielded Narhari Amin, an old Congress hand, as its third candidate after declaring nominations of Abhay Bharadwaj and Ramila Bara. This is a clear indication that Amin has to use his political might to win a seat for himself and the party. The Congress has two candidates Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki.
Unsure if it would be able to keep its flock together, the Congress has resorted to resort politics.
There is no guarantee the Congress will be able to ensure the victory of both its candidates. BJP leader Amin could scrape through. If that happens, the defeat for the party, which had been gloating over its victory in 2017, will be humiliating.