The state Congress is now trying to convince party MLA Asha Patel, who quit last week, to withdraw her resignation, fearing that she might join the ruling BJP.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Paresh Dhanani met Patel at her residence in Unjha on Monday. “I personally met Ashaben today. She told me that she was having some problems with Mehsana District Congress Committee leaders who neglected her in organisational matters. She was not consulted while taking decision with regard to organisational matters of the district unit and not shown respect as an MLA’’, Dhanani told The Indian Express.
“Ashaben took the decision in a huff. She has no ideological differences. She is not against the party system. She is having some personal grievances with the district unit office-bearers. We will take up the issue with the party high command and try to resolve it’’, Dhanani said. “Ashaben has no plans to join the BJP or any other party as of now,” he added.
After submitting her resignation, Patel had said that she would decide her future course of action after consulting her supporters at a public meeting in Unjha on February 21. She has been avoiding media ever since she resigned.
Congress sources said that Patel had some differences with the district office-bearers over the election of chairman for the post of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Unjha, that has an annual turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore. Sources said that Patel wanted local leaders to support Dinesh Patel, a BJP worker, who is going to contest APMC elections. Dinesh Patel, who is related to Asha, had openly supported her in the state Assembly elections in 2017 against BJP candidate N L Patel.
According to sources, Dinesh had supported Patel on the condition that she and the Congress would help him win the Unjha APMC elections. Dinesh is said to be a strong rival of N L Patel, sources said.
The local Congress leaders, however, were against Patel over APMC elections. She then took up the matter with senior party leaders but nothing happened.
“Feeling betrayed by her own party leaders, she decided to quit’’, said a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity.
“Congress leaders appear to be very naive to expect her to return to the party when she has even given up her MLA post. If she really wanted to remain in the Congress, then she would have not resigned from the MLA’s post. She would have only submitted her resignation to AICC general secretary Rajiv Satav to bring pressure on the party and then taken it back after her grievances were redressed,” said the Congress leader.
“The question of returning to Congress does not arise as it would be suicidal for her own politics’’, the leader added.
“If she has resigned from the MLA’s post, it indicates that some serious bargain has taken place between her and the BJP. As for the question of her joining the BJP, it is immaterial whether she joins immediately or later on’’, said the leader.
The party leader further said that Patel is likely to join the BJP at some function to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in north Gujarat. Vadgam in Mahesana district of north Gujarat is the native place of Modi.
“So, the decision by Ashaben (to quit Congress) was not taken in haste. It was well-planned,” said the leader.
Contacted, state party president Amit Chavda said, “Only Paresh Dhanani is in touch with Ashaben”.