New Delhi: The BJP may have suffered a setback with its candidate's defeat to Ahmed Patel in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha poll but it believes the defection of many Congress heavyweights to its ranks will help it in the coming Assembly election in the state.
The entry of Balwantsinh Rajput, who was its losing candidate, Tejashree Patel, and Ramsinh Parmar, among others into the saffron camp will be a big jolt to the Congress as they are leaders with a strong base and had won against the odds in previous polls, a senior BJP leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Gujarat assembly polls are likely to be held by this year end.
The BJP has been in power in the state since 1995, except for a brief spell when a rebel faction led by Shankersinh Vaghela formed the government with the help of the Congress.
Vaghela has now broken ranks with the Congress and is likely to be a BJP ally in the upcoming polls in which the opposition party hopes to cash in on a host of issues against its saffron rival.
The BJP leader said many Congress defectors are several-term MLAs and were senior party leaders with certain bases.
Rajput was the Congress' chief whip, Patel too was a whip while Parmar, a seven-term MLA, is also chairman of Amul, a cooperative having state-wide influence.
The Congress enjoys considerable influence in the cooperatives in the state.
The BJP believes that it can replicate the Uttarakhand formula where it had engineered defections by a number of Congress leaders, laying the ground for a big win in this year's assembly polls in the hill state.
However, unlike Uttarakhand where it was in the opposition, the BJP has had a long innings in power in Gujarat and the Congress is hopeful of putting up a good show on account of anti-incumbency and perceived anger among Patidars.
BJP sources also reiterated that Rajput will go to court against the Election Commission's order to annul two votes by rebel Congress MLAs, resulting in Ahmed Patel's victory.
The BJP had won 116 seats in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly in 2012 against 60 won by the Congress.
Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 21:40 PM