Cong at sea in Gujarat

Published on Apr 14, 2004 01:28 PM IST

Congress in Gujarat is not getting enough of its central leaders for campaigning in a state where the BJP has a crushing majority.

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PTI | ByChandan Nandy, Vadodara

The Congress in Gujarat is in an unenviable position. It has too few seats under its belt. It is short on enthusiasm. It has no single leader who can coalesce the party into a single cohesive fighting unit. And it is not getting enough of its central leaders for campaigning in a state where the BJP has a crushing majority.

The Congress has one thing in abundance, though — inner-party bickerings, camp rivalries, bad-mouthing among the leadership and back-stabbing.

With four distinct camps in the Congress — that of Congress Legislature Party chief Amarsinh Chaudhary, former state party chief Shankersinh Vaghela, Ahmed Patel and Madhavsinh Solanki — the party's campaign has remained a near non-starter and lacks the edge being enjoyed the BJP.

Party candidate for Vadodara, Satyajitsinh Gaekwad says with an element of disdain: "I have not requested the high command for any tall leader to campaign here." Gaekwad doesn't have kind words for Chaudhary who he feels has "doomed" the Congress' chances this election.

"The problem is with the high command," he says when asked why Chaudhary isn't campaigning for him. Apart from the four camps, each trying to undermine the other's fortunes, the Congress' ranks are allegedly packed with saboteurs.

Congress MLA from Anjar in Kutch, Nimaben Acharya is understood to have offered her support to the BJP after having challenged party president Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin.

In Dahod, seven-times Congress MP Somjibhai Damor has vowed to destroy the party as he was not given a ticket. Another Congress veteran, Chitubhai Gamit, is doing everything to undermine the prospects of Chaudhary's son, Tushar, in the Mandvi reserved constituency.

The excuses offered for wriggling out of campaigning for party colleagues are varied. While some feign illness or campaign fatigue, others offer their open support to rival candidates. Yet others pretend they are required in other areas.

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