NEW DELHI: A day after it emerged that eight Congress MLAs had not voted for joint opposition presidential candidate Meira Kumar, party leader in the Gujarat assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela on Friday quit the organisation during a rally on his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. On Thursday, the party had expelled Vaghela.
That the big drama unfolded a few months ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat sparked a buzz in political circles of Vaghela being the “Trojan Horse” in the Congress camp.
Though Vaghela ruled out joining the BJP, speculation was rife that he could float a political outfit by drawing out much of the strength of the Congress in the state. The script seems to have been taken straight out from Chhattisgarh where the BJP had been in power for about 14 years now.
The Congress had of late suspected its former face in Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi as the saffron Trojan Horse. So much so that senior Congress leader P L Punia had gone on record in the past saying that Jogi harmed the party from within. He was later expelled from the party. A similar script seems to be playing out in Gujarat.
BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning a record 150 or more seats out of 182 in Gujarat in the upcoming assembly elections. “After Shah set such an ambitious target, it was imminent that the saffron outfit would stage a coup of sorts within the Congress camp to leave the opposition party clueless about the elections.
The Congress expelled Vaghela at a time when the party has little scope to recover from the near mortal blow he would deliver by further weakening the outfit,” said a BJP strategist, who claimed that “Vaghela may be rehabilitated by the Narendra Modi government as a governor of a large state in the near future, while one of his sons might get appropriate space within the state unit of the BJP”.
Within the BJP, the bond between Modi and Vaghela is known, with the latter having mentored the former in his initial years.
With seven Congress MLAs having voted for President-elect Ram Nath Kovind, the saffron outfit appears upbeat to deny Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s key advisor Ahmed Patel a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha.
Ambika Soni trashes reports
Congress general secretary Ambika Soni on Friday dismissed reports of her resignation from the party, saying she had just asked the leadership to lighten her duties due to her health. “There is no question of resigning,” Soni said.