The Congress's trouble with Narhari Amin came to a head on Tuesday, with the veteran leader quitting the party with a group of high-ranking supporters.
Though it is widely expected that he would be joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the 62-year-old former deputy chief minister remained non-committal on the issue.
Amin, who expected to be fielded from Gandhinagar south segment, had been disgruntled over not getting a party ticket. On Sunday, he had organised a "show of strength" with other senior leaders in the same quandary. On Tuesday, Amin's supporters Hitesh Patel, Dasrath Patel, Ashish
Amin, Digvijaysinh Gohil, Jayantilal Parmar — all office bearers of the Gujarat Congress — resigned from the party as well.
The Congress said its decision was based on its criteria of not fielding anyone who lost two consecutive polls in the state. Amin had lost the assembly polls in 1998, 2002 and 2007 from Sabarmati and Matar assembly segments. Naresh Rawal, Sagar Raika and Himatsinh Patel have been denied ticket on the same ground.
Amin, however, alleged that the party had created the eligibility criteria to sideline senior leaders like him.
"Overnight, this norm was created to deny ticket to me and several others because some leaders in the state don't want competent people to enter the legislature," he said. "I have been working for the party for last 25 years but the party high command has not appreciated my hard work and loyalty."
Asked whether he would join the BJP, Amin said the party has invited him but he has not taken a decision yet.
A Congress leader involved in the candidate selection process, however, said Amin and the others had not only lost polls but also lost their support base.
"In the last polls, the Congress lost Matar because Amin, an outsider, was fielded from there. Rawal had also lost from Vijapur and Mehsana segments in 2002 and 2007," he said.