2024 Lok Sabha polls | Gujarat Congress working president Ambarish Der quits party; set to join BJP

Ambarish Der said the main reason for leaving the Congress was the party leaders’ decision not to visit the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya

Updated - March 04, 2024 05:55 pm IST

Published - March 04, 2024 04:29 pm IST - Ahmedabad

Ambarish Der. Photo: X/@Dharmes45578175

Ambarish Der. Photo: X/@Dharmes45578175

In a setback to the Opposition Congress ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, its Gujarat unit working president Ambarish Der resigned from the party on March 4 and said he will join the ruling BJP on March 5.

Just ahead of his announcement, Gujarat Congress president Shaktisinh Gohil told reporters that during a meeting held on March 3 night, the party’s disciplinary committee suspended Mr. Der from all party posts and as primary member of the Congress for a period of six years for his “anti-party activities”.

Notably, Mr. Gohil’s statement came immediately after local TV channels aired visuals of Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president C.R. Paatil visiting former MLA Der’s residence in Ahmedabad in the morning.

Within minutes of Mr. Gohil’s announcement of the Congress’ action, Mr. Der called a press conference at his residence, saying he was not aware when he was suspended by the party and announced he will join the BJP at its State headquarters ‘Kamalam’ in Gandhinagar on March 5.

Mr. Der told reporters the main reason for leaving the Congress was the party leaders’ decision not to visit the newly constructed Ram temple in Ayodhya.

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

“I am not aware when I was suspended by the Congress. But, I have tendered my resignation from all posts and it has already reached our high-command through fax and email,” Mr. Der told reporters.

“Paatil came to my residence to meet me and enquire about the well-being of my sick mother. After meeting him, I took the decision to quit the Congress,” he said.

Without taking any names, Mr. 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.

Mr. Der represented Rajula seat in Amreli district from 2017 to 2022 as the Congress MLA. He had defeated BJP’s heavyweight Hira Solanki, the younger brother of state minister Parshottam Solanki.

Ahead of the 2022 Gujarat Assembly polls, Der was made the Congress working president and remained on the post despite suffering defeat at the hands of his arch rival Hira Solanki.

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

There is speculation that Hira Solanki might be asked to resign as the Rajula MLA and fielded from Bhavnagar Lok Sabha seat, and Mr. Der might be the BJP candidate for the Rajula seat bypoll.

Asked about such a probability, Mr. Der said he was not aware of it.

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