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Congress top brass discuss aftermath of Shankarsinh Vaghela exit as Gujarat polls loom

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-07-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Top Congress leadership on Saturday discussed the situation arising out of Shankarsinh Vaghela’s exit even as state leaders exuded confidence that it will have no effect on the party’s prospects in the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had convened a meeting of top party leaders from Gujarat to discuss the impact of Vaghela’s exit. The meeting was attended by party chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, general secretary in-charge of Congress in Gujarat Ashok Gehlot, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Bharatsinh Solanki, and other states leaders.

When Rahul Gandhi asked about the bearing of Vaghela’s exit, Gujarat Congress leaders assured him that his quitting the party will have no effect on the party’s performance in the Assembly polls slated for November-December.

The Congress has been out of power for the last 22 years in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is striving hard to regain power in the state. During the meeting, the party leadership also exuded confidence of winning the Rajya Sabha seat in 8 August polls.

The party needs 47 votes to win the seat and it has 57 legislators in the 182-member assembly. The Rajya Sabha seat is currently held by Patel, who is in his fourth term since 1993. The Gujarat Congress has been divided between factions of PCC chief Solanki and Congress Legislature Party leader Vaghela, who was seeking replacement of the PCC chief.

Gehlot has termed Vaghela’s decision as “wrong” and “unfortunate” and said “I fail to understand Shankersinh Vaghelaji’s sudden decision. He seems to be acting under some pressure from BJP leaders”.

Amid indications of a rapprochement with Vaghela, Gehlot said, “The Congress party hopes that any misunderstanding he has will be resolved”. He said, “Vaghelaji’s decision at a time when Congress is about to win majority in the Gujarat assembly is absolutely inappropriate”.

Gehlot said the party has good prospects of winning the polls, claiming there is huge anti-incumbency against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been in power in Gujarat for nearly two decades.

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