The infighting within the Gujarat Congress is out in the open with lawmaker Ashaben Patel quitting the party and talk of at least three more MLAs likely to follow suit. The MLAs are expected to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
In a letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Patel, who resigned from all party posts on Saturday, said the infighting led to her decision. She also sent her resignation to assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi.
“On one hand PM Narendra Modi has given 10% quota for economically weaker sections, while the Congress is trying to create a rift between different castes here," Patel alleged in her resignation letter.
A first-time legislator, Patel had defeated five-time MLA and former minister Narayan Patel in the Unjha constituency, riding on the wave of the Patidar agitation. Hardik Patel had also campaigned for her.
Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda said the BJP was trying to make up for its failure through defections.
Ashaben Patel is the second sitting MLA since the Gujarat elections to have quit the Congress, after Kunvarji Bavaliya, a strong Koli leader from Jasdan, who later joined the BJP.
The centre’s decision to give 10% reservation to the economically backward upper castes in jobs and education also seems to have paid off by countering the Patidar quota agitation in Gujarat led by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, according to another BJP leader who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hardik Patel has been at loggerheads with the BJP government over the Patidars’ demand for quota in government jobs and education for more than three years.