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Shankarsinh Vaghela

Detractors say he has to always hog the limelight. His supporters say he is the only hope Congress has of ousting Modi in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2002 12:23 IST

Shankarsinh Vaghela

Detractors say he has to always hog the limelight. His supporters say he is the only hope Congress has of ousting Modi in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections. Whichever side one looks at, Shankarbhai is definitely the man of the moment. From an almost thirty-year spell in the BJP to being state Gujarat Congress chief is a remarkable turnaround.

Vaghela shot into fame nationally after the famous Khajuraho 'incident' of September 1995, when he led a group of 48 BJP MLAs in an internal revolt in ruling BJP. And as the issue was widely seen as being resolved in his favour (his demand for the removal of the then chief minister was carried out), he perhaps set his goals higher.

Quitting BJP next year, he formed the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), he set about to break the BJP. And by the end of 1996, he was successful in doing so. The Suresh Mehta - government, the first BJP government in the state, lost majority and after a 35-day President's rule in the state, Vaghela was sworn in as chief minister with outside support of the Congress.

However his triumph was relatively short-lived as his party lost in the 1998 assembly polls to the BJP. Soon after he joined the Congress and in 2002 was appointed state Congress chief.