Vaghela's exit 'unfortunate', says Cong; BJP says he was 'humiliated'

Vaghela's exit 'unfortunate', says Cong; BJP says he was 'humiliated'

Vaghela's exit 'unfortunate', says Cong; BJP says he was 'humiliated'

The Gujarat Congress today said it was "unfortunate" that senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela was quitting the party, while the ruling BJP claimed that the veteran politician was facing "humiliation" in the opposition party.

The Congress said it was unfortunate that the former chief minister, who was appointed to key posts after he joined the party nearly two decades ago, was quitting four months ahead of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls.

"The Congress, in the last 20 years, gave many opportunities to Vaghela. He was made a Union minister, the state party chief, leader of opposition (in the Assembly). (Party chief) Sonia Gandhi and (her deputy) Rahul Gandhi had faith in him and that is why he was appointed to these posts," Ashok Gehlot, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in- charge for Gujarat, told reporters in New Delhi.

"I do not know why has he done this...Whether he has done it under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. What was the pressure?," he wondered.

Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, however, sought to play down the impact Vaghela's exit would have on the party in the Assembly polls due later this year.

"I firmly believe his resignation will have no impact and the Congress will win with a two-thirds majority as the people of Gujarat are very smart," he said.

Solanki also ruled out the possibility of cross-voting in the August 8 Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat.

The polls to the Upper House of Parliament will be held for one seat currently with the Congress and two of the BJP.

"There is no question of cross-voting as all the MLAs will have to vote for the party as per the whip. If they ignore the whip, they will be disqualified from contesting elections for six years. I am sure no one would want that," said Solanki.

Congress leader Siddharth Patel said the party had given "enough" to Vaghela in the last 20 years, despite the 77- year-old leader's RSS background.

Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani claimed that the Congress was on the verge of a split in the state thanks to an "infighting" over who would be its chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming election.

"The Congress is a sinking ship...who will survive in it? It is struggling to cope with an infighting over who would be the chief ministerial candidate," he said and added that it was "very sad" that Vaghela was "removed" from the party.

Earlier in the day, Vaghani called up Vaghela and greeted him on his 77th birthday.

BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "Vaghela has become Congress-mukt today. He was facing humiliation in that party. Now, we would have to see who else will be Congress-mukt."

He also mentioned that Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani too had wished Vaghela on his birthday.

"The Congress appears to be directionless. It does not have any programme for the uplift (of the marginalised sections of the society) or vision for the progress of the country. They have lost states after states," said Pandya.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said, "The Congress will face the consequences of ignoring Vaghela."

Gujarat Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Jayant Patel said the veteran politician was welcome to join his outfit.

"The Congress will pay a price for ignoring Vaghela. We welcome him to join the NCP. We will give him a free hand in the Assembly polls," he said.

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