Days after the Congress lost the Jasdan Assembly bypoll to the BJP, several senior Congress leaders have expressed their resentment against state unit president Amit Chavda, saying that “ the present leadership is disconnected with the grassroots level leaders”.
The Congress leaders, who assembled at a dinner party at the residence of former state party president Arjun Modhwadia on Wednesday night, aired their discontent, blaming Chavda’s handling of the Jasdan bypoll campaign for the party’s defeat.
“Amit Chavda is totally disconnected with the grassroots level party workers and also senior leaders. Many party leaders are angry and several of them may quit the party if the present leadership does not change its attitude,” a senior party leader, who attended the dinner party at Modhwadia’s residence, said.
The dinner was attended by 15 Congress leaders, said sources. Among them were former state party president Siddharth Patel, former Union minister and tribal leader Tushar Chaudhary, sitting MLAs Alpesh Thakor and Shailesh Parmar, former MP Somabhai Patel, former Rajya Sabha member Rajubhai Parmar and Gujarat Pradesh Yuva Congress’ former president Indravijaysinh Gohil. Former MP Jagdish Thakor, however, skipped the dinner over “ill health”, said sources.
When asked about the discontent brewing in the party, Modhwadia, said, “When our national president Rahul Gandhi is working very hard at national level and moves around all over the country, our state president (Chavda) does not travel even within the state.”
“Party leaders discussed the issue of party affairs in the larger perspective… What is required is to involve experienced and senior leaders in the mainstream activities of the party with a view to strengthen the party at the grassroots level. As the approaching Lok Sabha elections are going to be very challenging, we must be prepared ourselves to the expectations of the national party leadership,” Modhwadia added.
“Leaders of @INCGujarat met at my residence to introspect & strengthen the congress party for 2019 Loksabha election. Such dialogues with young and senior leaders will only enrich party’s prospects in near future,” he later tweeted.
Party leaders alleged that Chavda was following on the footsteps of former state unit president and his close relative Bharatsinh Solanki that has made him “lose the connect with party workers”.
A senior leader said that it was because of Solanki’s approach, the party had split on the eve of Rajya Sabha elections last year, and as many as 16 of the total of 59 MLAs, led by former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, quit the party or cross-voted for the BJP candidate.
Party leaders also blamed Solanki for Vaghela’s exit from the party, and said that it was one the reasons for the Congress to secure a majority in the Assembly elections last year, despite good performance. “What is required is to remove the despair among the party workers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Chavda requires to change himself and establish rapport with workers at the grassroots level,” said a leader.
Chavda, meanwhile, could not be contacted.