Rebel Congress MLAs Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala resigned as members of the Gujarat Assembly on Friday, alleging that the party had insulted them, ANI reported. They reportedly cross-voted during the bye-elections to two Rajya Sabha seats in the state.
Thakor, who was elected legislator from Radhanpur in the 2017 Assembly elections, told The Indian Express after casting his vote: “The Congress observer tried to create a lot of issues over my vote, so you can understand for whom did I vote.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Juglaji Thakor in the bye-polls, while the Congress’ nominees were former minister Chandrika Chudasama and local leader Gaurav Pandya. The bye-polls were necessitated after Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani were elected to the Lok Sabha in May.
Thakor later told reporters: “I joined Congress trusting [former party chief] Rahul Gandhi, but unfortunately he did nothing for us. We were insulted again and again. So, I have resigned from the post of Congress MLA.”
“I have cast my vote for the honest national leadership that wants to take the country to new heights,” Thakor was quoted as saying by PTI. “I cast my vote as per my inner voice. I got nothing other than mental stress by being in the Congress party. I am free from that burden.”
He also alleged that he was a victim of propaganda within the Congress and could not do anything for his backward castes community. “I have entered politics to serve the people of my community. I could not do anything for them in the last two years,” he said.
Zala, the legislator from Bayad, claimed that Congress leaders were not listening to party workers. “From the day I became an MLA, senior leaders in the party were harassing me,” Zala was quoted as saying. “I had informed the party office in writing in this regard as well. Party activists were not being heard. Party leaders were not hearing the grassroots workers. I have resigned as an MLA.”
Thakor and Zala had skipped a legislative party meeting held by Congress MLAs at a resort in Banaskantha district on Thursday night. Around 65 lawmakers were moved to the resort the night before to avoid any attempts at horse-trading by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Thakor had quit all posts in the party on April 10 after the Thakor Kshatriya Sena, an outfit founded by him, decided to withdraw its support to the Congress. He had then said the party leadership had betrayed him.
The Congress responded by filing a petition in the Gujarat High Court to seek an order for the state Assembly speaker to decide on Thakor’s disqualification as MLA. However, the court dismissed the petition earlier this week. Thakor had told the court that he had quit only party posts and had not given up Congress membership.
Thakor was the Congress’ secretary in charge of Bihar and a member of party committees for the Lok Sabha polls. He is a prominent leader from Other Backward Classes.