In a fresh jolt to the Congress ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, its MLA Brijesh Merja on Friday (June 5) resigned from the Assembly membership, becoming the third legislator of the opposition party to quit this week.
The Assembly secretariat confirmed that Speaker Rajendra Trivedi has accepted the resignation of Merja, who was elected from the Morbi seat.
Merja, whose resignation comes ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls for four seats in Gujarat on June 19, is the third Congress MLA to quit in the last three days.
Before quitting as a legislator, Merja resigned from the primary membership of the Congress and shared his resignation letter with the media.
In his resignation letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, Merja said though he had joined the Congress to serve people, he was “unable to do so while being in the party.”
Merja is the third Congress MLA to have resigned since Wednesday and the eight since March.
On June 3, Congress MLA’s Akshay Patel and Jitu Chaudhary had handed over their resignations to Trivedi.
“I have accepted their resignations. They now cease to be the legislators,” Trivedi told reporters in Gandhinagar on Thursday (June 4).
Patel represented Karjan seat of Vadodara while Chaudhary represented the Kaprada seat of Valsad.
The resignation of the two MLAs is expected to make it difficult for the Congress to win more than one seat in the Rajya Sabha. To win a seat in Gujarat, a candidate needs at least 34 MLAs.
In March, when Rajya Sabha polls were announced, five Congress MLAs had resigned.
With every drop in the MLA count, the Congress’ chances of winning the second Rajya Sabha seat are fast diminishing.
The elections for the four seats were supposed to be held on March 26. However, they were postponed for an indefinite period in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent
imposition of nationwide lockdown. They are now scheduled to he held on June 19.
While the Congress has fielded its senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki, the ruling BJP has nominated Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramilaben Bara, and Narhari Amin as its candidates for the polls, in which MLAs will vote.
The Congress has also accused the BJP of trying to split the opposition party to win the Rajya Sabha polls.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani alleged, “The BJP has opened its shop to buy Congress MLAs from the money amassed through corrupt means. The BJP is using the state machinery and money power to win elections.”
Related news: Elections to 18 Rajya Sabha seats to be held on June 19
However, the ruling BJP dismissed the charge, saying MLAs were leaving the Congress as they were “unhappy” with the party leadership.
BJP’s Narhari Amin refuted the allegations and said, “I believe that some more Congress MLAs would also resign in near future. They are leaving Congress because they are unhappy with the party leadership.”
In the 182-member Assembly, the BJP has 103 MLAs, while the Congresss count now stands at 65.
While the Bharatiya Tribal Party has two MLAs, the Nationalist Congress Party has one legislator and there is one Independent legislator, Jignesh Mevani. Ten Assembly seats are vacant – two due to court cases and the rest because of resignations.
(With inputs from agencies)