Why the Gujarat Congress has its tail up

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 31, 2017

More zing? Congress leader Ahmed Patel at the party’s ‘Satya Vijay Sammelan’ in Surat on Tuesday   -  PTI

Having lost a few MLAs recently,the party appears meaner andready for a fight

Seldom does a political party gain from its losses.

After several of its MLAs left the Gujarat Congress this month, along with perhaps its most charismatic leader Shankersinh Vaghela, the party appears revivified.

It is the recent Rajya Sabha election — its leader Ahmed Patel won despite the ruling BJP pulling out all stops to prevent his victory — which seems to have energised the moribund Grand Old Party.

The Congress has been out of power in the State since 1995. Election to the State Assembly is due in another four months.

Such is the confidence in the party that at a recent party function, cries of “Gujarat ki ek hi pukar: abki baar, Congress sarkar! (Gujarat echoes a singular call: a Congress government this time)” rent the air.

Rahul in town

Looking to cash in on the sentiment, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will address party leaders and workers in Ahmedabad on September 4 and also meet leaders from different sections of society, including the ‘GST-affected’ traders. He will also begin a tour of Gujarat from the third week of September, camping three days in each of the State’s four regions to ready party machinery for the upcoming polls, Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi told BusinessLine.

Rahul had recently made fresh appointments to the party’s State and district-level units, apparently to ‘clip’ the wings of State Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, a demand raised by the erstwhile Vaghela faction.

New heroes

Interestingly, the rejuvenated Congress, bereft of any heroes after the exit of Vaghela, has discovered new stars in the 43 Congress MLAs who stood by it during the recent RS elections. The Congress is set to parade them across Gujarat as the party loyalists, at a time when the ruling BJP is denouncing many of them, for deserting their flood-hit Assembly constituencies to enjoy the luxuries of a resort near Bengaluru prior to the RS election.

Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, also has a spring in his feet. The party’s third-most powerful leader after Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, retained his seat for the fifth term in the Upper House by a whisker, even after losing 13 of its 57 MLAs to the Vaghela-led rebellion. This, he claimed, was Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs).

On Tuesday, to cash in on this victory, he launched the party’s election campaign, Satya Vijay Sammelan, with a show of strength at an indoor stadium in Surat, the State’s financial capital. All 43 Congress MLAs were felicitated at the event and nearly assured the legislators that they would all get party tickets for the Assembly polls. “Tickets will be given to those who deserve, could win and stay with the party. Those who left us have feet of clay.”

Calling his own RS win only a ‘trailer’, Patel, who has set a target of 120 seats in the 182-member Assembly, announced that the entire film would be ‘released’ in December. He quoted Gautam Buddha: “The deeper the struggle, the sweeter the victory”, and Chhatrapati Shivaji: “Aadil Shah’s 12,000 soldiers could not protect his Bijapur fort against Shivaji’s 500 fighters. Similarly, the small army of the Congress will storm the BJP’s bastion.”

The Congress veteran also criticised the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government for the recent arrest of Patidar leader Hardik Patel and its alleged moves against Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani. He said these youths were fighting for the rights of their community.

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Published on August 31, 2017
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