Mr Rajendrasinh Chawda, sitting Congress MLA from Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, who had defeated Minister of State for Home Praful Patel in the 2012 assembly elections joined the BJP on Thursday.

Mr Chawda submitted his resignation as a legislator to Speaker Vajubhai Vala, bringing the Congress’ strength down to 55 in the House. The party had bagged 60 seats out of 182 in 2012.

Mr Chawda’s decision comes less than 24 hours after Somnath MLA Jasa Barad switched sides, becoming the fourth Congress legislator from the Saurashtra region to join the BJP. Mr Barad had quit the BJP in 1995 along with senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela who formed his own outfit called Rashtriya Janata Party that later merged with the Congress.

Strengthening the hands of Mr Narendra Modi, former minister of state for home during the 2002 riots, Gordhan Jhadaphia, who later quit the BJP, is in talks with Mr Modi to return to the pariwar. Mr Jhadaphia is a veteran Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader. His move follows the decision of rebel BJP veteran, Keshubhai Patel, to resign as an MLA and quit politics.

Mr Patel and Mr Jhadaphia had floated the Gujarat Parivartan Party as an alternative to Mr Modi in the run up to the December 2012 Assembly elections. Mr Patel had contested successfully from the Visavadar constituency in Saurashtra region, considered to be the Uttar Pradesh of Gujarat for it sends the maximum number of MLAs in the State.

However, later in 2013, his youngest son Bharat Patel joined the BJP and is likely to contest the by-elections on the seat vacated by his father. The Gujarat Parivartan Party itself is now set to merge with the BJP. When contacted, Mr Jhadaphia said his return to the BJP was “in the process.” Speculation is rife that he might get a BJP ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bhavnagar.