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‘Unruffled’ by Vaghela exit, Congress to keep Solanki as Gujarat unit chief

Gujarat Congress leaders assured Rahul Gandhi that Vaghela’s resignation will have no bearing on the party’s performance in the November-December polls.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2017 20:48 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,Rahul Gandhi,Bharatsinh Solanki
Gujarat Congress leaders assured Rahul Gandhi that Vaghela’s resignation will have no bearing on the party’s performance in the November-December polls.(PTI FILE PHOTO)

The Congress is unlikely to change its Gujarat chief Bharatsinh Solanki despite the unrest triggered by the exit of senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela months ahead of the assembly polls in the state.

The Congress leadership has decided “not to succumb to the pressure tactics” of Vaghela who quit the party on Friday after his demands for removing Solanki and his loyalists, and naming him the chief ministerial candidate, were rejected.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Gujarat leaders with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, called to evaluate the impact of Vaghela’s resignation on the party’s prospects in the November-December elections.

The assessment within the Congress is that Vaghela’s exit will have no bearing on the party’s performance in the polls in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

Out of power for 22 years, Congress is desperate to regain power in Gujarat where Chhabildas Mehta was its last chief minister in 1994-1995. From 1998, the BJP has been in power, with Modi ruling it for 12 of those years, before he became the Prime Minister.

There were indications that the Congress might try to pacify Vaghela after the statements of party general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, hoping that he will continue to work for strengthening the organisation and assuring that his misunderstanding will be resolved.

At the meeting, Congress leaders also sounded confident of winning one of the three seats in the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections, provided it can keep its flock together.

The party needs 47 votes to win the seat and it has 57 legislators in the 182-member assembly. However, the cause of worry for the Congress leadership is the cross-voting by about 11 legislators in favour of NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the July 17 presidential elections.

The BJP is comfortably placed on the other two seats.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel is likely to be re-nominated. If elected, it will be his fifth term in the Upper House.

Some BJP legislators are also said to have cross-voted for opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 19:52 IST