Vaghela not expelled, says Cong hoping he'll work for party

Vaghela not expelled, says Cong hoping he'll work for party

Vaghela not expelled, says Cong hoping he'll work for party
Congress on Friday rejected rebel leader Shankarsinh Vaghela's claims that he was “expelled from the party” a day earlier as a “baseless argument”.

“Neither has Congress Party taken any disciplinary action against him nor has he been expelled from the party,” Randeep Surjewala, the chief Congress spokesperson told reporters soon after Vaghela claimed that a rally in Gandhinagar that he was expelled from the Congress on Thursday.

Surjewala also made in known clearly that Vaghela was harbouring ambitions of becoming the Gujarat Congress President, a demand the leadership was unwilling to concede. Vaghela's meeting with BJP President Amit Shah in late March had set tongues wagging in the Congress making the leadership watch his moves carefully but with scepticism.

Though Vaghela had announced at a Congress meeting that he was not in the chief ministerial race, he sent out signals to the contrary with his supporters putting up posters demanding that he be projected as the next CM.

Knowing the influence the former BJP leader wields in the state, the Congress was not keen to antagonise him. Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to the Congress President, even offered him to send him to the Rajya Sabha after his term ended in August. However, Vaghela was not to be placated and stuck to his demand of succeeding state unit President Bharatsinh Solanki.

“Vaghela wanted that present PCC President should be replaced and he be appointed in his place. This is a decision of the party and its leadership and no one individual can decide it,” Surjewala said and hoped that the rebel leader would continue to work for the party despite his decision to quit posts.

It was history repeating itself for Vaghela after more than two decades. In 1996, Vaghela, then a senior BJP leader had revolted against the party after Keshubhai Patel was made the chief minister. He became the chief minister for a year backed by the Congress, a party he subsequently joined in 1998.

Vaghela on Friday described himself as a “free bird” and told his supporters that they were free to chart their own path and not look at him for guidance. This week's presidential election had seen cross-voting by 11 legislators believed to be owing allegiance to Vaghela. The next test for the Congress would be the Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat slated for August 8 when Ahmed Patel is seeking re-election.
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