Kunwarji Bawalia
Kunwarji Bawalia speaking at a Congress event.Kunwarji Bawalia Twitter

Kunwarji Bawalia, a senior Gujarat Congress MLA and prominent Koli community leader, tendered his resignation from the party as well as a member of the legislative assembly on Tuesday. 

Soon after, he met BJP state president Jitu Vaghani and two other cabinet ministers at the party state headquarters "Shree Kamalam".

Bawalia, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajkot district in the 2009 elections, is a four-time MLA from the Jasdan constituency of Rajkot. He handed over his papers to Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi.

The Koli community leader has been in frowning ever since the December 2017 elections as he was ignored for a key party position despite his seniority. It is likely that he will join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and sources believe he could be inducted into the Vijay Rupani cabinet.

His resignation comes days after another leader from Rajkot, former legislator Indranil Rajyaguru, quit alleging that the Congress leadership ignored the aspirations of several party seniors. Rajyaguru had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections against Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in December 2017 from Rajkot. He said that he was not joining the BJP, but quit as he was unhappy with the Congress' "style of functioning".

Gujarat is a BJP stronghold, and the latest development will make it tougher for the Congress party as they are trying to recoup ahead of the 2019 general elections. While the party was able to improve its performance in the state over the last elections, senior leaders leaving is a matter of serious concern.

In Karnataka as well, the party seems to be struggling to keep its alliance with the JD(S) alive, as Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's farm loan waiver plan has received backlash from the Congress, but has not deterred the CM from going ahead. Just last week, former CM Siddaramiah was heard criticising the government, indicating that all is not well. 

[With inputs from IANS]