Former Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela on Thursday announced that he would campaign for the Congress candidate in Jasdan Assembly by-elections to be held on December 20.
Vaghela, who was also a Union Minister in the UPA-I government, said: “I will campaign in support of the Congress candidate if I am invited by the Congress. Even if I am not invited, I will campaign against the BJP that will benefit the Congress directly.”
The senior politician said that in 2019 Lok Sabha elections as well, he would campaign against the BJP. “I will not be contesting Lok Sabha elections in 2019 but I will be campaigning against the BJP and in favour of the Congress and NCP candidates,” he said. He added that he was in touch with NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
Asked why he should campaign against the BJP when he is not a part of any political party, Vaghela said, “I have taken the decision to protect the country from destruction. If BJP is not stopped, democracy will disappear from the country. Every democratic institution from Election Commission to Supreme Court is being discredited under the BJP government’’, he said.
The 78-year-old politician, who has RSS roots and began his political career with the BJP, said, “I know Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah more than anyone else. They don’t have respect for dissent. They don’t want opposition. I want democracy to survive. And this is why I have made a decision to work against the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. I believe Congress and NCP will certainly benefit from my work.”
Vaghela said that he planned to launch a state-level movement against the BJP government over the agrarian crisis in the state owing to BJP’s “anti-farmer” policies. He said farmers in the state were suffering due to the central and state governments’ negligence. “I will announce details of my agitation on November 24,” said the former CM.
Asked if his son Mahendrasinh, who left the BJP within a month of joining the saffron party, would be contesting the Lok Sabha elections, Vaghela said, “It is for Mahendrasinh to decide. He takes his decisions independently.”
Mahendrasinh, a former MLA, had quit the Congress along with his father and several other MLAs in August 2017. Vaghela and his group were demanding that the Congress announce its chief ministerial candidate for December 2017 Assembly polls. As the party did not concede, they quit. But sources close to Vaghela had said that it was orchestrated by BJP which allegedly threatened him of action in a case registered against him by the CBI pertaining to sale of national textile corporation (NTC’s) land in Mumbai when he was the Textile Minister. Vaghela had, however, denied that he had quit the Congress owing to pressure from the BJP.
Vaghela demands resignation of union minister
Former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela on Thursday demanded resignation of Union Minister Haribhai Chaudhary on “moral grounds’’.
CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha in his petition before the Supreme Court had alleged that Chaudhary received bribes in June this year.
Vaghela said that former Congress minister Pawan Bansal had resigned from his post after some allegations were levelled against him. “In Chaudhary’s case, allegations have been levelled by the CBI in Supreme Court. The minister must step down immediately,” he said.