Gujurat Congress announces 'Ghar Wapasi' for defectors

Gujurat Congress announces 'Ghar Wapasi' for defectors

The Opposition Congress in Gujarat, which has seen a series of defections by the party's big guns in over a year, on Tuesday announced 'Ghar Wapasi' for those wanting to come back to the party fold.

"All those old Congressmen who had for any reason jumped ship to the BJP and are ruing their decision would be welcome back into the party. In the coming days, we would hold a recruitment drive across the state to bring back such Congressmen back into our party fold," Paresh Dhanani, leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, said.

The Congress has been in trouble for over a year now with stalwarts such as Shankarsinh Vaghela leaving along with 14 legislators just before the Rajya Sabha election that saw senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel scrape through.

The exodus continued, with senior Congressmen from Saurashtra Indranil Rajyaguru calling it quits recently, followed closely by five-time legislator and two-time parliamentarian Kunvarji Bavaliya donning the saffron scarf last week.

The Congress has also been suffering jolts at the local self-government level, losing many taluka and district panchayats as corporators and panchayat members jump ship to the BJP.

"The drive also seeks to include all those BJP members who were once originally Congressmen as well as original BJP members who are now dissatisfied with the party," Dhanani said.

The move by the Congress is seen as part of its preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary polls in 2019. Congress has been facing a severe shortage of workers at the ground level.

During the last Assembly polls of 2017 in the state, it did not have workers to man many electoral booths. "It is like we handed over many constituencies to the BJP on a platter. This hit us on at least 35-40 seats out of the 182," a senior Congressman said.

The offer also came on a day when a group of about two dozen local leaders from Rajkot met Indranil Rajyaguru asking him to come back as the president of the Rajkot City Congress.

Indranil, one of the richest Congressman, with assets of over Rs 140 crore, had lost to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot constituency.

Though he has now shown keenness to meet up with Congress President Rahul Gandhi during his forthcoming visit to the state, he is still skeptical about other senior party leaders in the state. "I would become active but not on any party platform," Indranil told reporters.

However, as far as Dhanani is concerned, Indranil is still with the party. "He is a key part of the party… he was in the Congress... he is still in the Congress and I hope that he remains in Congress for life," Dhanani said.

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