By Cutting Vaghela Loose, Congress Gifts Him New Stature

by Abel Hampton July 24, 2017, 0:07
By Cutting Vaghela Loose, Congress Gifts Him New Stature

In a body blow to the Congress in Gujarat, one of its tallest leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela, today announced he was quitting the party but ruled out joining BJP.

While addessing the public rally on his 77th birthday, Vaghela said, "My party has shown me the door".

Early this week, Gujarat Congress leaders rushed to meet Vaghela after he lashed out against the party leadership for not doing enough to win the assembly elections, which are slated by end of this year. One led by Vaghela and the other by Bharat Singh Solanki.

But the party decided not to succumb to "such pressure tactics" and put up a united front.

"Congress has expelled me 24 hours before". I have resigned from the post of Leader of the Opposition (in the Gujarat Assembly).

Congress has 57 MLAs in Gujarat and its candidate would require votes of 47 of them to get elected.

Aligning with Patel and the expulsion is guaranteed to give Vaghela the political martyrdom he desperately wanted, giving him fresh political currency. If elected, it will be his fifth term in the Upper House. What if the Congress came back to power even without him? "No action was taken against Shankersingh Vaghela ji nor was he expelled".

Vaghela has been sulking and raising a dissident voice within and outside the Congress party for a long time now. Taking veiled digs at Patel himself, Vaghela blamed him for the mess the party is in the state, where it has been out of power for almost two decades.

It is being speculated that Vaghela has the support of more than 20 MLAs, who could have cross-voted during the Presidential polls. The party had accordingly advised its legislators and leaders not to attend the event as the platform could be used to criticise the high command.

Senior journalist Swati Chaturvedi says, "Vaghela, a Rajput, has considerable influence in North Gujarat, where he can safely influence a dozen seats". However, the party men knew of the storm that brewing, as "Bapu" Vaghela had made up his mind. The attempt to link the BJP was obvious. With his charisma and grip over the Gujarat polity, Vaghela was an asset to the Congress that was losing ground in the state.

In the wake of these developments, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met senior leaders from Gujarat on Saturday in the presence of Patel, to chart the future course of action.

The Rajya Sabha seat is now held by Patel, who is in his fourth term since 1993.

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