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Gujarat Cong boss quits; MLA raises Ram mandir, heads to BJP

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
Last updated on: March 04, 2024 21:44 IST
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In a double whammy for Congress ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Gujarat unit working chief Ambarish Der and senior MLA Arjun Modhwadia resigned on Monday expressing anguish over the party's decision to "boycott" Lord Ram temple consecration ceremony held in Ayodhya in January.

IMAGE: Gujarat Congress ex-working Ambarish Der (second from right). Photograph: Courtesy Ambarish Der on X

Interestingly, both leaders announced their decision to quit Congress just three days ahead of the scheduled entry of Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Gujarat.


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

Der said he would join the Bharatiya Janata Party "without any conditions". Modhwadia has not yet announced his next move.

Modhwadia, who represented the Porbandar seat, submitted his resignation as MLA to Gujarat assembly speaker Shankar Chaudhary in Gandhinagar on Monday evening.

The Speaker's office confirmed that the resignation has been accepted.

Modhwadia later told the reporters that he had also resigned from all posts in Congress and also as its primary member.

One of the senior-most and most influential opposition leaders in Gujarat, Modhwadia, 67, was associated with Congress for nearly 40 years. He had also served as the leader of the opposition and as the state unit president.

He defeated BJP heavyweight Babu Bokhiria in the 2022 assembly elections.

With Modhwadia's resignation, the Congress' effective strength in the 182-member Assembly has come down to 14.

Modhwadia is the third MLA of Congress to resign in the last four months after Chirag Patel and CJ Chavda, who quit in December and January, respectively.

In a letter addressed to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Modhwadia stated by declining the invitation for the 'pran-pratishtha mahotsav' of 'Balak Ram' at Ayodhya, party leaders not only hurt the sentiments of the people of India, but the party also failed "to assess the sentiments of people".
Modhwadia mentioned that he had voiced his "dissent" over the issue on January 11.

He said many people like him were "offended by the manner in which the Congress party insulted Lord Ram by boycotting Mahotsav in Ayodhya".

Modhwadia said he now feels relieved and asked Congress to introspect why a senior leader like him has parted ways with the party.

"When a party loses its connection with the people, it becomes an NGO. I had raised my voice when Congress had dishonoured the invitation for the consecration ceremony. I told the leadership that such decisions would harm us. Though I tried to convey my feelings to the leadership, I failed," Modhwadia told reporters in Gandhinagar.

Earlier in the day, Der also referred to Congress leadership's decision to not attend the Ram Lalla idol consecration ceremony.

Der said he would join the BJP without any expectations and that the ruling party had not promised him anything.

The 46-year-old former MLA claimed it will be "home-coming" for him as he was with the BJP in the past and worked extensively for it when he was young.

Without taking any names, Der said leaders must understand that a political party should not behave like an NGO.

"When such a grand Ram Temple finally came up and people's wait of more than 500 years finally came to an end, the Congress leaders' decision to not visit the temple was not fair. I had raised the issue at that time too.

"I am not criticising anyone. Lord Ram is revered by all and a political party must give respect to the beliefs of all. When it did not happen, I took the decision to quit the Congress," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had performed the pran pratishtha or consecration rituals at the newly-constructed Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22.

Before Der addressed the media at his residence, Gujarat Congress president Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters that he had been suspended for six years for "anti-party activities".

Der represented the Rajula assembly seat in Amreli district from 2017 to 2022 as a Congress MLA.

He had defeated BJP heavyweight Hira Solanki, the younger brother of state minister Parshottam Solanki, in the 2017 elections.

Ahead of the 2022 Gujarat assembly polls, Der was assigned the charge of Congress working president. He remained on the post despite losing to arch-rival Hira Solanki in the elections.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.