October 22, 2021 12:01:30 am
Ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections, a 15-member delegation of senior Gujarat Congress leaders will be meeting Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday on the appointment of new state president and leader of opposition and possibly the “face” for Congress for the upcoming elections.
According to sources in the Gujarat Congress, senior congress leaders such as Amit Chavda, Shaktisinh Gohil, Paresh Dhanani, Hardik Patel, Arjun Modhwadia, Naran Rathva, Siddharth Patel, Tushar Chaudhary, Gyasuddin Shaikh will be part of the delegation which will meet Rahul.
Apart from Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, who is already based in Delhi, the senior leaders arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Palam of Delhi from Ahmedabad on Thursday evening.
For the past six months, the posts of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president and Leader of Opposition (LOP) in Gujarat Assembly have been lying vacant after interim president Amit Chavda and interim LOP Paresh Dhanani submitted their resignations following the party’s poor performance in the local body polls of Gujarat early this year.
Sources within the party said that Rahul Gandhi is expected to have a one-on-one meet with the senior leaders to discuss the fractions within the Gujarat Congress and the roadmap ahead. While one camp is rooting for 61-year-old Gohil as the GPCC president, the other is rooting for 28-year-old Hardik Patel, current working president of GPCC. As per sources, while both Patel and Gohil are considered close to the Gandhi family, it is the latter who has confidence of the senior leaders.
“While Chavda and Dhanani have had a lackluster performance since their appointment, young scion Hardik Patel has also been unable to set his foot at ground level in Gujarat Congress post the Patidar Andolan and his subsequent appointment. The party leaders will be discussing the face of Assembly elections and also see if there is any leader in the 15 member delegation who has not been given any major responsibility yet. Hopefully by the end of the day, the picture will get clearer on GPCC president and LOP,” said a senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity.
After securing their best performance in the past two decades by winning 77 seats in Gujarat Vidhansabha elections in 2017, Congress in Gujarat has seen a downward spiral since then as it has lost its MLA count to 65 and have had poor performances in Lok Sabha 2019 polls, Rajya Sabha by polls, Vidhan Sabha by polls and local body polls.
Post their impressive performance in 2017 elections, Congress had appointed 45-year-old Amit Chavda, a four time MLA from Anklav constituency in Anand, as GPCC president in early 2018, replacing veteran leader Bharatsinh Solanki.
The appointment of Chavda was seen as a move made by the Congress party high command to choose a ‘young leader’ ahead of 2019 General elections . However, in 2019 General elections, the Congress party could not manage to win even a single seat out of 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. In July 2020, the party appointed young Patidar leader Hardik Patel as the working president of GPCC while retaining Chavda as the president. Fault lines within the Congress had emerged during the 2021 local body polls when Patel had claimed in an interview with The Indian Express that he was not given any rally to address by the party.
However recently Gujarat Congress had put up a united front in Ahmedabad after independent MLA Jignesh Mevani joined the Congress party with former JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar in Delhi in the presence of Rahul Gandhi. Recently, Patel had issued a statement over media speculations of him becoming GPCC president stating that he is not in the race and that his fight is for regime change and welfare of people of Gujarat.
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