New weathercock: Resignation of Congress MLAs for Rajya Sabha polls

The Congress may have lost the count of how many times it has had to shift its MLAs from a ‘vulnerable’ state to a ‘safe location’ under its own government. The latest political script being written in Gujarat has seen the Congress housing around 20 MLAs at Wild Winds resort in Mount Abu of neighbouring Rajasthan. More MLAs are likely to join.

On the two ends of coronavirus lockdown, the Congress has its number of MLAs reduce from 73 to 65 in the Gujarat assembly, which is voting to elect four Rajya Sabha MPs on June 19, which is incidentally the birthday of Rahul Gandhi, the de facto high command of the Congress party.

An extremely unwelcome birthday present may be coming his way from Gujarat, where he led a spirited electoral fight in 2017. The Congress had made the BJP nervous back then and succeeded in bringing the BJP’s total below 100 the first two figure-mark since the party came to power in 1995.

Today, the BJP has 103 MLAs and the Congress 65. In 2017, the Congress had won 77 seats.

The Congress’s problem in Gujarat began in 2017 itself when Congress 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. Back then, six Congress MLAs had resigned and nine others did not vote for Ahmed Patel, who barely scraped through.

A similar script is playing out in coronavirus-delayed Rajya Sabha election. Given the respective strength of the parties in March when the Rajya Sabha election was announced, both the Congress and the BJP had numbers to win two seats each.

One candidate needed 37 first preferential votes. The Congress had got assurance from Independent MLA Jignesh Mewani. Now, eight Congress resignations later, the required first preferential vote 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.

A suspecting 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…

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