Senior Congress legislator and prominent Ahir community leader Bhaga Barad tendered his resignation from the Gujarat assembly and joined the BJP a day after the seniormost Congress Gujarat legislator, Mohansinh Rathwa, joined the ruling party.
Mr. Barad was elected from Talala seat in Saurashtra region second time in 2017. He comes from an old political family with allegiance to the Congress. His late brother Jashu Barad was a Minister in the Congress government in the 1990s and was also elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 from Junagadh.
He is from Ahir community, which belongs to the OBC category and are spread in Saurashtra districts like Jamnagar, Dwarka, Somnath and Junagadh. He will now likely contest the assembly polls from his seat Talala on a BJP ticket.
Since the 2017 assembly polls, as many as 19 Congress legislators have defected to the BJP in Gujarat blurring the ideological distinctions of the ruling and opposition camps in the state.
The ruling party is recruiting Congress leaders with social base in the tribal pockets in North and Central Gujarat and in Saurashtra where the OBCs are dominant in several districts.
Earlier, the ruling party recruited a three-time Congress MLA Ashwin Kotwal from Khedbrahma seat in North Gujarat in July this year.
On Tuesday, Mr. Rathwa, who has been a member of the state assembly since 1972 except 2002-2007, abruptly joined the BJP apparently over differences with the Congress party regarding ticket for his son from his seat Chhota Udepur seat in central Gujarat.
The 78-year-old Mr. Rathwa, a former Cabinet minister and also briefly served as the leader of the opposition in the State assembly, wanted the Chhota Udepur seat for his son, Rajendrasinh Rathwa, but the party was not in favour of the move.
According to sources, the BJP is likely to field his son from the seat.