A day before Congress candidate Kirit Jadeja was to file his nomination for bypoll to Vadodara’s Karjan Assembly constituency, several party leaders of the district unit met the district president of the Congress, Sagar Brahmabhatt, on Wednesday raising objection to Jadeja’s candidature.
The party leaders have demanded a change of candidate and threatened to boycott election groundwork if the party rejects their objection.
Congress, which is aiming to retain the seat after the defection of its then sitting MLA Akshay Patel to the BJP, is having a tough time trying to convince the local leaders, who consider Jadeja as an “outsider”.
In an objection submitted to the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amit Chavda on Tuesday, the leaders had demanded an immediate revision in the candidate for the constituency, claiming that Jadeja is an “outsider” and also not a “loyal party member”. The leaders have demanded a local candidate from the old-time party leaders who have been based in and around Karjan. On Wednesday, the leaders arrived at the party’s district committee office in Vadodara city and got into a heated discussion with the district president about the action taken by the party in the matter.
A senior leader of the party, who was also an aspirant for the ticket, said, “Most of us have spent our life in the party. We worked hard to get this seat in 2017 and defeated BJP. It was not Akshay Patel alone, but Congress as a unit. We also had Rahul Gandhi coming here for the campaigning. This time, Akshay is the BJP candidate and there is no denying that he is popular among the people. So, the party needs to field someone who has a local connect and understands the issues of the people. Giving out a ticket to someone like Jadeja, who, in the past, also went against the party in the local elections, is like giving the BJP a piece of cake.”
While senior party executive from the GPCC said that the decision can be taken only at the All India Congress Committee, Brahmabhatt told this newspaper, “I tried to explain to the leaders here that the decision may take time. Right now, Jadeja is the party candidate and we are working for the party. We have to get on with the campaigning as we have a strong base and we will be able to retain the seat. They were agitated and wanted to hear about the decision. The GPCC leaders have forwarded the letter to the high command.”
Brahmabhatt said that as per the party’s mandate, Jadeja will file his nomination on Thursday. The last date for filing nominations is October 16.
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