In a setback to the Congress in Gujarat ahead of the general elections, two party legislators on Friday tendered their resignations, with one of them joining the ruling BJP later in the day and another announcing his decision to join the party soon.
Manavadar MLA Jawahar Chavda gave his resignation to Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi in the afternoon, while Parsotam Sabariya, who represented Dhrangadhra seat in Morbi district, gave his resignation in the evening.
Mr Chavda joined the BJP at the party’s headquarters in Gandhinagar, while Mr Sabariya announced that he will join the ruling party soon.
Mr Sabariya was arrested in October last year in connection with the irrigation scam. He was granted bail in February by the Gujarat High Court.
“Congress MLA from Dhrangadhra seat, Parsotam Sabariya, tendered his resignation today evening. I have accepted his resignation. He has not given any particular reason in his resignation letter. He now ceases to be a member of the Gujarat Assembly,” Mr Trivedi said.
Commenting on his decision, Mr Sabariya said he was joining the ruling BJP to develop his constituency.
“I was not under any pressure because of the pending case. I am already out on bail. I have resigned voluntarily. I am not dissatisfied with any Congress leader. I am joining the ruling BJP as I felt that this is the best way to serve the people of my constituency,” he said.
The former lawmaker claimed that he was not offered any ministership in the Gujarat government by the BJP.
Mr Sabariya was arrested in October last year for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe from persons accused in an irrigation scam in Morbi district in return for not raising the issue in the Assembly and with the state government.
Just an hour before Mr Sabariya’s resignation, Mr Chavda joined the BJP at party headquarters in Gandhinagar after giving his resignation as the MLA of Manavadar seat in Junagadh district.
Mr Chavda, 55, a four-time MLA, was inducted into the party by state Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja and senior party leader KC Patel.
After joining the BJP, Mr Chavda said he has not left the Congress out of any discontent or differences with the Congress leadership.
Mr Chavda, a prominent OBC leader from Ahir community, said he also resigned from the primary membership of the Congress and sent a letter to party president Rahul Gandhi to inform him about his decision.
Talking to reporters, he claimed that the BJP has not offered ministership to switch sides ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
“It is not true that I am joining the BJP to become a minister. I am in politics to serve the people. I am joining the BJP as I felt that I can serve the people in a better way if I join the party that is in power.
“I also felt it necessary to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the current security scenario of the country,” Mr Chavda said.
He had won the Manavadar seat in 1990, 2007, 2012 and 2017.
Though speculations are rife that he would be made a minister in the coming days, both Mr Chavda and Mr Jadeja dismissed the reports.
“The party will decide whether to give me a cabinet berth or not. Otherwise, I do not have any such aspirations. I left the Congress because I was not enjoying there. I was feeling suffocated for quite some time,” he added.