Former Guj CM Vaghela joins NCP in presence of Pawar

Shankarsinh Vaghela. PTI file photo

Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela was Tuesday inducted into the Nationalist Congress Party here in the presence of its chief Sharad Pawar and made the party's national general secretary.

Pawar said NCP will use Vaghela's political experience and mass following in Gujarat as well as for the party's national development.

"When democracy is under threat in India under BJP rule, I have decided to join the NCP to fight against BJP and strengthen the hands of anti-BJP forces," Vaghela said after joining Pawar's party.

When queried whether he would fight the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, Vaghela said it was for his party to decide.

Speaking on the occasion, Pawar said, "I have asked Vaghela to not only concentrate on Gujarat but also contribute towards national development of NCP. He will be national general secretary of the party. In Gujarat we want to strengthen anti-BJP forces and by bringing in Vaghela, we have tried to do that."

His entry into the NCP can lead to a three-corner fight on a few Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in case the Congress and the NCP fail to reach an alliance against the ruling BJP, political observers said.

All 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat are currently in the BJP's kitty.

The NCP and Congress had fought 2017 Assembly polls separately with the former managing to win just one seat in the 182-member House.

The 78-year-old Kshatriya strongman had left the Congress before the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, after he and a few of his supporter MLAs voted against Ahmed Patel, the Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha, and backed BJP nominee Balwantsinh Rajput.

Vaghela, however, did not join the ruling BJP and put up Independent candidates in the state Assembly elections held in December 2017, all of whom lost.

The former Gujarat chief minister recently toured various places, including Delhi, declaring that he would work for the defeat of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Vaghela started his career with the BJP, but in 1996 engineered a split in the saffron party after he was denied chief ministership a year earlier in favour of Keshubhai Patel.

Vaghela, in 1996, became the state's chief minister with outside support from the Congress.

He also served as Union textile minister in the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre as well as Gujarat Congress president and leader of opposition in the state Assembly. 

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Former Guj CM Vaghela joins NCP in presence of Pawar

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