Three days, '13 dilemma' for Gujarat Congress

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel. File photo

While the name of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s was being reported as a probable candidate for Bharuch Lok Sabha seat in south Gujarat on Sunday, state Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil rushed to Delhi fueling the speculation over Patel’s candidature, with barely three days left for filing nomination.

According to sources, Ahmed Patel, who hails from Bharuch, is said to be reluctant to contest.

Sources said that the central leadership also wants Patel to take the plunge considering the ongoing case in the Gujarat High Court, where his 2017 Rajya Sabha victory is being challenged.

“There are apprehensions that Patel might lose the case in the high court and that’s why he is being pushed. Although party workers are not sure of his win in Bharuch, Patel’s candidature might send a strong message across the party line. There are also indications that Shaktisinh Gohil and leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani may also be fielded by the central leadership,” said a source in the Congress.

With the Congress taking its time to finalising candidates for nearly half of the total 26 seats, speculations are rife that the central leadership actually wants well-known faces to try their mettle in the election.

Sources also said that “athough Ahmed Patel is still reluctant, his 38-year-old son Faisal may be considered for the ticket from Bharuch.”

The fate of Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who joined the party last month, also hangs in balance given the fact that the high court refused to grant a stay on his conviction.

Without the stay he won’t be able to contest the elections.

On Monday, the 25-year-old leader, who is camping in Delhi since Saturday, moved the apex court for relief. Hardik is running out of time as the last date for filing nomination is April 4.

Apart from central leadership, the state Congress leaders have also requested Ahmed Patel to take a chance.

“Even if he loses, he will continue to be a Rajya Sabha MP. We will see how the case in high court against him turns out in the end,” the source said.

The Congress is still in dilemma on how to deal with tribal leader Chhotu Vasava who also wants to fight from Bharuch seat in view of the fact that it has a large number of tribal voters.

Vasava has publicly asked the Congress to leave this seat. It was Vasava who had voted for Patel in the August 2017 Rajya Sabha election by going against the party line. He was then with the Janta Dal (U).

Meanwhile, the BJP has already announced its candidates for 23 seats and 17 of them have filed their nominations by Monday, this includes party president Amit Shah. The candidates are already out in the public holding meetings.

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Three days, '13 dilemma' for Gujarat Congress

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