Gujarat Congress MLA Ashaben Patel quits party

Gandhinagar: In a blow to the Congress in North Gujarat, Unjha MLA Ashaben Patel here on Saturday tendered her resignation from all the posts, claiming the state leadership was ignoring her and unable to contain groupism.

Patel, 40, is a first-time MLA from the key North Gujarat region which has three Lok Sabha constituencies of Patan, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha where the Congress is believed to be on a firm ground.

Besides state Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi, she sent her resignation letter to Congress President Rahul Gandhi also alleging internal fighting and groupism in the party.

In her letter, Patel alleged that there was no attempt for better coordination between the party and elected representatives, while infighting was at its peak. Against this, the ruling BJP is pulling out all stops to maintain its tally of 26 out of 26 Lok Sabha seats.

She rejected speculation of her joining the BJP, though sources said it could happen in a few days.

They claim the BJP’s chances were bleak in North Gujarat, which is also the home region of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party President Amit Shah. In view of this, poaching of Ashaben Patel is the first, before more Congress heads roll from this region.

‘Operation Ashaben’, as local Congress leaders call it, was plotted in Delhi and party General Secretary in Gujarat K.C. Patel was in constant touch with the Congress MLA and her close aide for more than a month.

Sources believe she may be fielded on a Lok Sabha ticket or re-nominated from the Unjha seat, while her close aide Dinesh Patel is said to have been promised a lucrative position in Agricultural Produce Market Committee in Gujarat.

With today’s development, Congress’ strength in North Gujarat has decreased drastically. Sources say another couple of MLAs might resign from the Congress in the near future.