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Former Gujarat Congress chief and former MLA Arjun Modhwadia along with the party’s former working president Ambarish Der joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday, a day after they quit the grand old party

The two leaders joined the saffron party at its state headquarters ‘Kamalam’ here along with several others. State BJP chief CR Paatil inducted them into the party by offering them saffron caps and scarves. Modhwadia and Der resigned on Monday, expressing anguish over the party’s decision to “boycott” the consecration ceremony of Lord Ram temple held in Ayodhya in January.

Interestingly, both the leaders announced their decision to quit the Congress just three days before the scheduled entry of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Gujarat. One of the most important and influential opposition leaders in Gujarat, Modhwadia, 67, was associated with the Congress for nearly 40 years.

He had also served as opposition leader and state unit president.

Addressing the media after joining the BJP, Modhwadia said he wanted to contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of achieving social and economic independence for the country. “Even after India gained political independence in 1947, Gandhi’s dream of social and economic freedom for the country remains far from being realized.

Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah, the two sons of Gujarat, are leading the country and working hard with the dream of making India develop…Modi is working to achieve the dream of social and economic changes that were not fulfilled ” he said. The former veteran Congress leader said he entered politics to bring about social and economic changes, and this did not seem possible in Congress.

“All the efforts made there proved fruitless. Today I can see the dream I envisioned for Porbandar coming true under Modi’s leadership,” he said. Modhwadia emphasized that he would not join the BJP due to any coercion or enticement as claimed by the Congress.

“I join the party to achieve change in the country,” he added. Der said the BJP worked to resolve problems in the country that were pending for years.

He accused Congress leaders of misleading people and making shocking statements about the Ayodhya Ram temple. “I am here in politics to deliver. I joined the BJP to get the political platform of a party that is functioning effectively,” he said.

In his speech after his inauguration, Paatil said that India will become the greatest nation in the world under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, and that leaders would join hands with the BJP to contribute to this effort. Jamnagar Congress leader Mulu Kandoriya, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in 2019, was also among the leaders who joined the BJP along with Modhwadia and Der.

“You have worked to join the BJP because you want to contribute to Modi’s efforts to develop Gujarat, and with it the country. It is your desire to work for the people and help them. You have joined the BJP to find the right platform for this. Let’s work together for the same thing,” he said.

Days before Der and Modhwadia quit the Congress, party Rajya Sabha member and former Union minister Naran Rathwa had joined the ruling BJP along with his son and a large number of followers.

Modhwadia, who represented Porbandar seat, submitted his resignation as a legislator to Gujarat Assembly Speaker Shankar Chaudhary in Gandhinagar on Monday night. The presidency confirmed that the resignation has been accepted.

He defeated BJP heavyweight Babu Bokhiria in the 2022 assembly elections. With Modhwadia’s resignation, Congress’s effective strength in the 182-member assembly has been reduced to 14. Modhwadia is the third Congress MP to resigns in the last four months after Chirag Patel and CJ Chavda, who resigned in December and January. respectively.

Der represented Rajula assembly seat in Amreli district from 2017 to 2022 as a Congress MLA. He had defeated BJP heavyweight Hira Solanki, younger brother of state minister Parshottam Solanki, in the 2017 elections. Ahead of the 2022 Gujarat assembly elections, Der was given the post of working president of the Congress. He remained in office despite losing the election to his archrival Hira Solanki.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First published: Mar 05 2024 | 3:52 PM IS

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