When a party has been out of power for 12 years, overt signs of dissidence fade away on their own, as there are few spoils of office or patronage to fight over. Unlike the BJP dissidents, Congress faction leaders and their followers have not been vocal about their differences for some time now. But that does not mean the differences have ceased to exist.
This fact was brought starkly home during ticket distribution in the past few days when supporters of aspirants who had been denied ransacked the Congress office in Ahmedabad, smashing window panes and chairs.
"It only shows that Congress's chances of winning are bright. That is why so many people want Congress tickets," said Sriprakash Jaiswal, the Union Minister of State for Home, on a visit to the state.
The main faultlines in the Congress lie between the original partymen and those who joined later — mainly followers of the late Chimanbhai Patel, who merged his Janata Dal (Gujarat) with the Congress in the early 1990s, as well as those of Union Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, formerly a top BJP leader, who quit to form the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) which also eventually merged with the Congress.
The intense factionalism was evident in the repeated changes of the Gujarat Congress unit's president in the past few years: CD Patel yielded place to Vaghela, who in turn gave way to BKGadvi, who was replaced by Amarsinh Chaudhury, till finally Bharatsinh Solanki took over.
Thus in Meghraj constituency of Sabarkantha district, one of the 'original' Congressmen, Jasubhai Patel, has entered the electoral fray as a rebel after the Congress ticket went to Vaghela's son.
In Khadia, in the heart of Ahmedabad, the son of former party president Prabodh Rawal has been given the Congress ticket, but local worker Jagat Shukla is likely to contest as well. Some of them may well contest on Bahujan Samaj Party tickets too.
Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Hashmukh Patel, however, insisted that none of the rebels posed a serious threat to the official candidates.