The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Gujarat experienced a setback when its MLA, Bhupendra Bhayani, stepped down from his role in the state legislative assembly and relinquished his primary membership of the party on Wednesday (13 December). Bhayani asserted that the AAP was not an appropriate platform for serving the people.
The leader, also known as Bhupat Bhayani, announced to the press that he has resigned from his position as MLA and also stepped down as a worker of the AAP, led by Arvind Kejriwal. He further revealed that he will soon be joining the currently governing BJP.
"Having been a dedicated member of the BJP for 22 years, I have never faced suspension and will forever remain loyal to the party. My aspiration to focus on the development of the people and my constituency has led me to resign," he further elaborated.
The representative for the Visavadar seat in Junagadh district, Bhayani, tendered his resignation to the speaker of the Gujarat assembly, Shankar Chaudhary, in Gandhinagar in the morning, according to an official.
Bhayani, who previously served as the sarpanch of Bhesan village in Junagadh before joining AAP for last year's state elections, expressed his reluctance to go against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He referred to Modi as a source of pride who has elevated India's reputation globally.
He expressed his intention to rejoin the BJP, a party he originally belonged to and served for nearly 22 years before becoming an MLA. He also stated his willingness to run in the by-poll if the central leadership desires. Contrary to claims made by AAP leaders, he asserted that his decision to quit was not influenced by any pressure.
In his letter of resignation, Bhayani stated his intention to step down from his MLA position, however, he did not provide any explanation for this decision.
"The resignation of Bhayani has been accepted by the speaker," stated DM Patel, the secretary of the Gujarat assembly.
In the previous year's state elections, Bhayani was among the five MLAs representing the AAP. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged victorious by securing a resounding majority with 156 out of the 182 seats in the assembly.
The Gujarat assembly polls marked the inaugural victory for AAP.
After Bhayani stepped down, the Aam Aadmi Party's state president, Isudan Gadhvi, criticised the BJP, stating that they are attempting to divide AAP MLAs out of fear. He claimed that the BJP is making weekly offers or threats to one MLA or another.
Gadhvi confidently asserted that the four MLAs from the Aam Aadmi Party remain strongly united. He further accused BJP leaders of being uninterested in their duties, alleging that their only aim is to undermine the AAP.
Isudan Gadhvi conveyed to the reporters at the state office his desire for the Visavadar citizens to give the BJP a significant lesson in the Lok Sabha.
"Despite the BJP having 156 MLAs, incidents such as counterfeit syrup, fraudulent tolls, and sham government offices are occurring throughout Gujarat. I extend my heartfelt apology to the citizens of Visavadar and assure them that such incidents will not repeat in the future," he stated.
Bhayani had earlier suggested in December of the previous year that he might leave his party to join the BJP. However, he quickly organised a public meeting in his native Junagadh district to dispel rumors and "clarify" that he had no intentions of leaving.
The Visavadar seat in the Saurashtra zone, traditionally associated with ex-Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, saw Harshad Ribadia being elected as MLA twice on a Congress ticket. However, Ribadia switched from Congress to BJP before the previous elections. He was then defeated by AAP candidate Bhupat Bhayani by an approximate margin of 7,000 votes.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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