Gandhinagar: The worst fears of the Congress in Gujarat may be coming true in a repeat of the 2017 scenario, following reports that four if its legislators have resigned their seats, putting the election of one of their two candidates for the Rajya Sabha in jeopardy.
The election to four seats from the state are slated for March 26. If this be so -- for official confirmation was awaited -- the Congress strength in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha would diminish from 73 to 69, which would not be enough to get both their candidates elected.
There was also speculation that the party may withdraw one of their two candidates rather than risk defeat, but the state Congress leadership denied any such move.
With about ten days to polling date, in a bid to protect its flock, the Congress has begun moving out some of its legislators to the safe sanctuary of neighbouring Rajasthan which is Congress ruled.
The BJP held three of the four seats from Gujarat in the Rajya Sabha which are due to witness re-election on March 26. Incidentally, the BJP possesses numbers only to win two seats, but chose to put up a third candidate at the last minute, giving indications of its intention to either poach or induce intentional disqualification of Congress votes.
The BJP has a history of such machinations in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
That some such thing was in the offing had been in the air in the corridors of power for some time.
The speculation had gained currency after Jyotiraditya Scindia switched sides in a concerted effort to destabilise the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in MP.
All this is not new to the BJP. It had tried similar messy tactics in the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections to scuttle Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s re-nomination bid and failed by a whisker, thanks mainly due to the voting by two Congress turncoats --Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohel -- being declared invalid.
A spate of induced resignations from the Congress in the run up to the Rajya Sabha polls had led to the expulsion of 14 Congress legislators.
The Election Commission had made the BJP’s task of winning both Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat easier last year by the simple expedient of issuing separate notifications for it, thus enabling union external affairs minister S. Jaishanker and Jugaji Thakor to sail through easily.