With 41 days still to go before state votes to pick its next representatives, the political theatre has already swung into action.
A day after three Congress corporators, including the first mayor of Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (GMC), Mahendrasinh Rana crossed over to BJP, both national parties kept playing cat and mouse game on Thursday with claims and counterclaims.
Although it is just a municipal corporation, what is significant is the fact that both parties are trying to score early point in a battle which promises to be a blockbuster this winter.
Maintaining a stronghold over the state capital will be a symbolic morale booster each party.
While BJP claimed that four more Congress corporators will join them, the Congress retorted by saying that six BJP councilors of the GMC will join it soon.
During the first poll held in April 2011, after its formation, Congress literally staged a coup as it bagged the corporation right under the nose of chief minister Narendra Modi. It won 18 out of 33 seats with BJP reduced to 15 seats. However, in a tit-for-tat, the Bharatiya Janata Party has drawn first blood by pulling three Congress corporators in its fold to claim majority in GMC.
However, Congress doesn’t seem in the mood to leave any stone unturned to retain power in Gandhinagar which is also a stronghold of former chief minister and Tourism Corporation of India chairman Shankarsinh Vaghela. The Congress is not only claiming to bring two corporators back, it is pursuing six BJP corporators to switch loyalty.
Initially, the Congress was powerless as the state government did not transfer power to GMC as promised earlier. Mayor Mahendrasinh Rana had been crying foul about discriminatory treatment by the state government. However, much water has flown since then as Rana now finds Modi as ‘Vikas Purush’ and is so impressed by his work that he joined the saffron party with two more colleagues – Hansa Modi and Subhash Patel, on Wednesday.
Although BJP seems to have swung into majority with help of three defected corporators, the power battle is yet to get over. The Congress is exploring legal options to disqualify these corportators under the anti-defection law.
To counter Congress’s move, the saffron party is trying to pull four more Congress corporators in its side. “We are in talks with four more Congress corporators, including three women corporators, which will safeguard them against the anti-defection law,” said sources in BJP.
On the other hand, Congress leaders claimed of taking the wind out of BJP’s sail by wooing its six corporators. “Our two corporators will come back to the party fold and around half a dozen BJP corporators are in dialogue with us as they are not happy with Rana’s entry in BJP,” said sources in Congress.
The Congress is yet to suspend three corporators from party fold. “They have not informed us nor have they resigned from the party. We are exploring legal options to tackle the situation,” said Mukesh Patel, president of Gandhinagar City Congress.
The Congress seems to have deferred the decision of suspending the trio till GMC’s board meeting on November 20. The meet is likely to be stormy affair as both parties will try to get into power.