Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: In the face of heightened dissident activities within the ruling BJP, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has turned the tide against the Congress netting at least two of its members of the Assembly in his party.

Besides a former MLA, two sitting Congress MLAs from south Gujarat formally joined the BJP on Tuesday in the presence of Mr. Modi during a fishermen convention at Billimora in Navsari district. Manish Gilitwala, representing Surat east constituency in the Assembly, and Shankar Varli, who was elected from Umbergaon, remained present on the dais with Mr. Modi and were later “blessed” by the Chief Minister for joining the BJP.

While a third Congress MLA, Nimaben Acharya, from Gandhidham in Kutch district, though still in the Congress, had since long been associated with the BJP and was suspended from the party about a year ago. The State Congress leaders admit that it was only a matter of time when she would formally join the BJP.

The leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Arjun Modhvadia, while confirming that Mr. Gilitwala and Mr. Varli had deserted the party, denied a similar move by another Congress MLA, Prabhuva Manek. Mr. Manek was earlier elected from Dwarka in Jamnagar district as independent but in the last election, he was elected on the Congress ticket.