Hours after his son Mahendrasinh Vaghela joined the BJP, former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Saturday said that while the Congress had internal democracy and was open to party workers, BJP “badly lacked” it.
Mahendrasinh joined the BJP in the morning in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani at Karnavati University in Gandhinagar.
According to BJP sources, Mahendrasinh also met party president Amit Shah, who addressed a Youth Parliament event in the university later in the day. “I am ready for any kind of responsibility,” Mahendrasinh said.
Later in the day, Vaghela addressed a press conference and said his son did not follow his advice. “Mahendrasinh told me he was under pressure from his acquaintances in the BJP to join the party. I advised him to consult his supporters. But he joined the BJP against my advice. I have now asked him to hold consultations within seven days,” he said.
Saying that their personal relations would not change because of political choices, Vaghela said, “I have told Mahendrasinh that I will quit political relations with him if he continues in the BJP without consulting his supporters. In a political democracy, one draws strength from supporters and workers.”
On his joining the BJP or returning to the Congress, he said, “I have not received an invitation either from BJP or Congress. Neither have I approached any of the parties. But I can certainly consider if there is an invitation. The question at the moment is hypothetical. It is like asking me if I would like to marry. When the real question is: where is the bride?”
The veteran politician, who quit the Congress in July last year ahead of Rajya Sabha polls, praised the Congress for its functioning. “The party has a strong internal democracy where everybody is heard and allowed to speak his/her opinion, which is not there in the BJP or any other party. In the words of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP is a cadre-based mass party. But the fact is that BJP lacks internal democracy and one does not get a chance to speak his mind or express dissent against the leadership.”
On the question of being contacted by either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or party president Amit Shah to join the BJP, Vaghela said, “I have met Modi only twice in the last few years. Once as Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and next at the time of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s oath-taking ceremony after 2017 Assembly elections. Shah met me only once in the last couple of years. But the issue of returning to BJP did not crop up.”
Vaghela also claimed the BJP did not stand a chance of winning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “As the BJP is fast losing popularity, it would have advanced Lok Sabha elections to December 2018 instead of April-May 2019, but it has delayed it due to biennial Vibrant Gujarat summit scheduled in January 2019,” he said.
Vaghela also made it clear that he had not quit politics. “I am very much politically active. I can return to politics again. There is no doubt about it,” he said.