Ten rebel Congress MLAs in Gujarat, including the seven who defied the party whip and voted for BJP candidates in the just-concluded Rajya Sabha polls in the state, will join the saffron party soon, former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh said in Gandhinagar today.
The Gujarat Congress had yesterday expelled eight MLAs, including Vaghela and his son Mahendrasinh, for cross-voting. Mahendrasinh, however, added that his father will not be among those who will join the saffron party ahead of Assembly elections in the state. Senior Vaghela today said that he will resign as Congress MLA next week.
"Apart from these seven MLAs, three others, who had tendered their resignations last month, will join the BJP in the days to come. My father is not joining the BJP. I thank the Congress for expelling us," said Mahendrasinh, the MLA from Bayad in Sabarkantha district.
"All the 10 MLAs, including me, have discussed the issue and decided to switch over. We have already had talks with BJP president Amit Shah, state BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani," he told reporters.
On August 8, eight Congress MLAs had voted for the BJP candidates in the Rajya Sabha election for three seats from Gujarat.
These MLAs were -- Shankersinh Vaghela and his son Mahendrasinh, C K Raulji, Raghavjee Patel, Bholabhai Gohel, Amit Chaudhary, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Karamshi Patel.
Besides, six Congress MLAs had resigned last month, ahead of the election to the Upper House of Parliament. Of them, Balwantsinh Rajput, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel joined the ruling party, while Ramsinh Parmar, Chhanabhai Chaudhary and Mansinh Chauhan were yet to take any decision on their future course of action.
The BJP had fielded Rajput as its third candidate in the Rajya Sabha poll, in a bid to defeat Congress nominee Ahmed Patel, but he lost, despite cross-voting by the Congress MLAs.
Talking to reporters in Gandhinagar today, Shankersinh Vaghela said the BJP "will take care" of the MLAs who cross- voted, adding that he himself would not join the saffron party.
"Though I voted for the BJP (in the RS poll), I am not joining it. The other MLAs, who voted for the BJP, can join the party. The Congress need not worry about them now. Since they voted for the BJP, the saffron party will take care of them," Vaghela said.
Ahmed Patel's Rajya Sabha win a 'conspiracy', says Vaghela
Shankersinh Vaghela today claimed Ahmed Patel's victory in the Rajya Sabha polls came through a "well thought-out conspiracy" scripted by Congress leaders and voiced reservation over the Election Commission's decision to invalidate the votes of two MLAs.
Vaghela, who revolted against the Congress last month, claimed party leaders drew up the plan to ensure Patel's victory a day ahead of the voting on August 8.
"It was a conspiracy by the Congress (leaders) to win the election. Otherwise, their candidate would never have won.
Their leaders planned everything in advance. They had prepared the documents to support their objection a day before the poll and challenged the voting as per that plan," Vaghela told reporters in Gandhinagar.
He was referring to the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Raghavjee Patel and Bholbhai Gohel, which were invalidated after Congress' polling agent Shaktisinh Gohil lodged a complaint with the EC.
"The polling agent of the Congress intimidated these MLAs as part of the conspiracy. I think that the EC has no right to intervene during the counting of votes, as only the returning officer can take such a call," he said.
"The EC must apply its mind and watch the video footage to get the clarity (on the matter)," he said, adding the panel's decision will be challenged in the Supreme Court.
(With PTI inputs)