The Congress central and state leadership will meet on October 17 in Vadodara to decide whether the 11 MLAs and two MPs who have rebelled against the BJP be inducted into the party or asked to float a separate?
The task of eliciting the views of the state unit has been entrusted to BK Hari Prasad, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat, and Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi and Prithviraj Chavan.
The central leadership isn’t averse to admitting rebels, as some of them are from Saurashtra where the party is considered weak. However, in the 2002 Assembly polls, the party had got 18 out of 52 seats here, in comparison with a paltry seven out of 62 in its "stronghold"— central Gujarat.
Rebel BJP MPs Somabhai Patel (Surendranagar) and Vallabhai Kathiria (Rajkot), who have got in touch with the Congress, are likely to join the party only if they are expelled by the BJP. But senior leaders Suresh Mehta and G Zadapia are more likely to share the Congress platform without joining the party.
Congress sources claim that the surveys show it to be in a neck–and-neck battle with the BJP. But there are fears that “wrong ticket distribution" could mar its prospects, specially since a quota system seems to be at work with the erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party of Union Minister Shankar Singh Vaghela and the Janata Dal (G) of late Chimanbhai Patel demanding their share of tickets.
To boost its prospects, the Congress also wants an alliance with allies like the NCP that had adversely affected it in over two dozen seats last time. With the BSP also contesting all 182 seats, the Congress can ill afford to take any chances.