In blow to Cong in Gujarat, Radadiya, son quit as MLAs

In a major blow to Congress, its Dhoraji MLA Vitthal Radadiya and his son Jayesh, who is an MLA from Jetpur, quit their membership of the state Assembly, bringing down the party's tally in the House to 57.

Radadiya, a heavyweight in the co-operative sector, is set to join BJP along with his son.

Radadiya, who as Porbandar MP was caught on camera waving a gun at a toll plaza a few months ago, accused the Congress of indulging into negative politics in Gujarat.

"I am going to join BJP along with my son. Taking a moral stand, we have resigned as Congress MLAs," he said Monday after the father-son duo submitted their resignations to Speaker Vaju Vala. They were accompanied by BJP cooperative sector leader and former agricultural minister Dileep Sanghani.

"Scams have tainted image of the UPA government. It has been partial to Gujarat as far as encouraging and supporting the state's development story is concerned. As an MP in the past, I have myself made so many representations to the central government on many issues, including Sardar Sarovar dam, but in vain," Radadiya said.

Reacting to the development, Congress Legislative Party leader in state Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela told mediapersons, "It is not going to affect Congress. The party did not even persuade them to change their mind."

In fact, Baalunhai Patel, the chairman of state Congress's disciplinary committee, said Radadiya and his son had been suspended from the party for six years after media reports that they were joining BJP.

In the December 2012 Assembly polls, BJP had won 115 seats while Congress won 61. Following the death of Morva Hadaf MLA Savita Vachet soon after results were announced on December 20 coupled with resignation by Limbdi MLA Soma Patel to retain Surendranagar MP seat, the Congress tally had gone down to 59.

The Nationalist Congress Party and Gujarat Parivartan Party have two MLAs each in the House.

According to BJP sources, Jayesh may contest Jetpur by-election again on a BJP ticket and his father could contest for Porbandar Lok Sabha seat in 2014 elections. Radadiya resigned as Porbandar MP after winning Dhoraji constituency in 2012 Assembly elections.

Considered to be close aide of Vaghela, Radadiya was a Congress strongman in the politically crucial Saurashtra region, which is otherwise known as a BJP bastion. He has wielded considerable clout in the co-operative sector for nearly two decades.

While BJP has been going strong across Saurashtra, Dhoraji Assembly constituency represented by Radadiya since 1990 has remained elusive to the saffron party.

Congress, on the other hand, now faces a leadership vacuum in Saurashtra, a cluster of seven districts mainly dominated the politically influential Patel community. State The defeat of state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia and former CLP leader Shaktisinh Gohil have already battered the Congress in the region.

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