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Vaghela says Gujarat govt to fall on May 23; BJP nixes claim

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Press Trust of India Ahmedabad
NCP leader Shankersinh Vaghela Monday claimed the BJP government in Gujarat would fall on May 23, when votes polled in the Lok Sabha elections will be counted, and maintained "many" ruling party MLAs were in touch with him.
The BJP quickly dismissed Vaghela's claims as "baseless" and said he was just trying to remain in limelight.
The former chief minister also claimed the saffron outfit will lose the Lok Sabha elections.
"The BJP will lose power both at the Centre and in Gujarat on May 23. The number of BJP legislators from Gujarat who would resign on May 23 is enough to topple the state government," Vaghela told PTI.
The septuagenarian politician, who was in the Congress till 2017, said "many" MLAs of the ruling party had met him to convey that they no longer wanted to remain with the BJP.
"These MLAs told me that they are ready to resign as legislators. They just want to leave the BJP as well as the government.
"They are feeling like bonded labourers. They say that no one listens to them. No one pays attention to their complaints about corruption," Vaghela claimed.
In the last Assembly elections held in 2017, the BJP had scored a slim victory over the Congress by winning 99 seats in the 182-member House. One Independent MLA had extended outside support to the government.
Support of at least 92 MLAs, out of the total 182, is needed for any party or coalition to form a government in Gujarat, where the BJP is in power for over two decades.
With the recent induction of former Congress MLA Kunvarji Bavaliya, the BJP now has 100 legislators.
Apart from Bavaliya, four more MLAs of the Congress had resigned ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Bypolls to these four assembly seats, which fell vacant following the resignation of sitting MLAs, were held on April 23 along with the Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat.
"The BJP, which used to talk about Congress-Mukt Bharat, has become Congress-Yukt BJP...I don't know what will happen in West Bengal, but I am 100 per cent sure that this (BJP) government (in Gujarat) will fall after Lok Sabha results," said Vaghela.
He was apparently referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in West Bengal that 40 MLAs of the ruling TMC were in touch with him and will desert their party once the BJP wins the general elections.
Guajrat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said Vaghela is known for making such "baseless" claims.
"People of Gujarat have been listening to Vaghela's false and baseless claims for many years now. He is doing so to remain in limelight.
"Forget about MLAs, not even a common worker has ever left the BJP. Our party is intact and it will remain intact in the future," said Pandya.
Vaghela was with the BJP till he pulled off a coup in 1996 to form government.
After the BJP came to power in 1995 in Gujarat and chose Keshubhai Patel over him as chief minister, Vaghela engineered a split in the saffron outfit and became the CM in 1996 with outside support of the Congress.
Later, he joined the Congress and served as Union Textiles Minister in the Cabinet of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Kshatriya strongman, who had also served as the Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat assembly, joined the Sharad Pawar-led NCP in January this year.

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 10:20 PM IST

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