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Neither joining BJP nor floating new party: Vaghela after Congress expels 8 MLAs

The former Gujarat chief minister however said other expelled Congress legislators may join the state’s ruling party.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2017 23:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Shankersinh Vaghela,Amit Shah,Ahmed Patel
Former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela says he will neither join the BJP or float a new party, a dat after Congress expeledd him and seven other legislators from the party for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections. (PTI File Photo )

A day after Congress expelled eight law-makers for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha election, former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela on Thursday ruled out rejoining the BJP or floating a new party.

He, however, termed election commission’s decision to invalidate votes of the Congress legislators during Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha poll as wrong. The poll panel’s decision paved the way for the Congress candidate Ahmed Patel’s victory in the election that went down to the wire.

The EC acted after the Congress had demanded that the votes of legislators Bhola Bhai Gohil and Raghav Bhai Patel be rejected for allegedly showing their ballots to BJP national president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani.

The former Gujarat CM hinted that other expelled Congress legislators, including his son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, would join the BJP.

“Except me, other MLAs are likely to join the BJP,” said Vaghela, a former RSS pracharak, who broke ranks with the BJP in 1996 and formed his own party, which later merged with the Congress. Vaghela quit the Congress on July 21 alleging that some party leaders were conspiring against him.

He added that he would resign as MLA in the coming week.

Despite Vaghela deciding against joining the BJP or forming a new party, his exit from the Congress is likely to affect the grand old party’s attempt to rejuvenate it in the state, where it is out of power since 1995.

The Congress has been banking heavily on farmers and Patidars and OBC youth who are fighting for job reservations to take on the BJP in the assembly election due later this year.

Vaghela said he decided at the last moment to vote against Patel as Congress’ Gujarat in-charge Ashok Ghelot did not apologise for his statement against him. Ghelot had alleged that Vaghela left the Congress fearing CBI and ED.

“It was at the 11th hour that I informed Patel about my decision of not voting for him,” he said.

He also accused the Congress of hatching a conspiracy in advance to ensure Patel’s victory claiming the party had prepared the draft to raise objections to a few votes a day before the polling took place.

“The Congress had decided whose votes would be challenged. The party had already prepared its arguments to be made before the EC,” said Vaghela.

The disgruntled leader said the Congress knew it did not have enough numbers to win. Patel, the political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, won because of the one vote caste either by an NCP or a JD (U) MLA.

He also slammed the commission for not taking any action against senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil. Gohil allegedly tried to snatch the ballot paper from Raghavji Patel.

First Published: Aug 10, 2017 17:44 IST