Ahmed files Rajya Sabha nomination as Vaghela threatens to resign as MLA

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 26, 2017

Soon after filing his nomination papers for a fifth Rajya Sabha term, party veteran Ahmed Patel was, on Wednesday, caught in a cross-fire between “free bird” Shankersinh Vaghela and AICC General Secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot with the former threatening to resign even as an MLA before the August 8.

On Tuesday, Gehlot had claimed that Vaghela had resigned from the Congress just to save his skin from the CBI and ED probes into the alleged scams involving Bapu when he was the Union Textile Minister in the UPA regime, 2004-2009.

Vaghela also appealed to Gehlot not to “spoil my relations with Patel”. “I have resigned only from the Congress party, not politics.’

Two MLAs of NCP and one of JD(U) are expected to vote for Patel, who needs at least 47 legislators’ votes to win back the RS seat. Last week, 11 rebel Congress MLAs, out of a total 57, had cross-voted in favour of NDA Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind, in place of UPA nominee Meira Kumar.

A couple of hours after Patel disclosed on Wednesday that Bapu had assured him “support” during their meeting yesterday, Vaghela told reporters that he could resign as an MLA even before the Rajya Sabha election (August 8) if Gehlot failed to withdraw his claims made on Tuesday.

Going hammer and tongs against Gehlot, the Gujarat leader terms his claims as character assassination, “advised” him to observe restraint and refrain from leveling “unfounded charges” Taking potshots at Gehlot—“He should try to be CM of Gujarat, not Rajasthan,”--Vaghela said the CBI and ED had already “raided” his house and found nothing, except “nearly Rs 500 or Rs 1000” in cash. He said his five-decade-long political life was “transparent”. Let CBI raid him 10 times, he challenged.

Interestingly, Vaghela and Patel were, until recently. said to have been in opposite camps.

Vaghela,77, had quit the Congress Party and as Leader of the Opposition in Gujarat Vidhan Sabha on July 21, adding he will also resign as an MLA after the Rajya sabha poll. On Wednesday, Mohansinh Rathwa, a senior tribal MLA from Chhota Udepur district, took charge as the new Leader of Opposition in the presence of Ahmed Patel, Gehlot, GPCC chief Bharatsinh Solanki and others.

During his meeting with Patel, Vaghela had promised “support” to the Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. “My vote is for him only, on a personal relationship basis, as I have known Ahmed Patel since 1977,” he added.

Vaghela said he had actually declined an offer of RS seat, made by Patel, recently. “In fact, about a month-and-a-half ago, I suggested Patel’s name to Gehlot for renomination of Ahmed Patel to the Upper House.”

The former CM, however, parried a question if he would field his relative, Balwantsinh Rajpur, Congress MLA, as a RS candidate.

Asked about the current status of the 11 rebel MLAs, he said they are still in the Congress and could take own decisions. The Congress should probe why they cross-voted.

Vaghela also declared that he will not contest the MLAs’ election this time. Election to the Gujarat Assembly are due by December 2017.

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Published on July 26, 2017
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