Cong's Gujarat MLAs flown to Bengaluru as party grapples with exodus

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Within minutes of joining the BJP, Balwantsinh Rajput was named the third Rajya Sabha candidate of the BJP, besides national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani. Before the Rajya Sabha elections, three senior Congress MLAs, who resigned from the party on Thursday, stood by the BJP.

The two legislators who have quit today are Mansinh Chauhan, who was a minister when Mr Vaghela was Chief Minister of Gujarat and Sanabhai Chaudhary.

The comments come after six Congress MLAs quit the party ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections for three seats that may alter the result.

With these resignations, the total strength of the state Assembly has gone down to 176, and Patel would need 46 of the 51 Congress votes to make his Rajya Sabha comeback.

He also hinted that the Congress may invoke the provisions of the anti-defection law to take some of the errant MLAs to task: if successful, these MLAs would be barred from contesting any elections for six years.

When Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked what he could do in the matter, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: "You can direct the Election Commission for free and fair elections (in the state)".

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Which means that while Ahmed Patel will need the backing of fewer legislators to win, Balwantsinh Rajput will also need fewer votes to defeat him.

He alleged that Congress Gujarat MLA Punabhai Gamit was offered Rs 10 crore by the BJP.

Maan Singh Chouhan and Sana Bhai Choudhari are the two MLAs who resigned from the grand old party. "They called Gujarat a hub of fake encounters and now a hub of stealing MLAs", Naqvi said. They later drove to the BJP office in Gandhinagar and joined the saffron party in the presence of its president Amit Shah. "Therefore, this shows the frustration of party MLAs", BJP leader Bharat Pandya told ANI.

Following repeated adjournments earlier on, the Rajya Sabha was on Friday adjourned for the day soon after it met after lunch, amid a ruckus by Opposition and treasury benches.

As many as 44 of the remaining 51 Congress MLAs left for Bengaluru, a lot of them by 11.45 p.m. Indigo flight from Ahmedabad to Bengaluru in Congress-ruled Karnataka while the others from South Gujarat and Saurashtra flew off through Mumbai to the South Indian metropolis.

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