February 3, 2021 10:25:46 pm
Former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, who had quit the Congress ahead of the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections, has put out a video message saying he is willing to return to the party. The video he mentions how many Congress leaders, who met him at the condolence meet for late Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel, suggested him to join the party. Vaghela stated that he is willing to “travel to New Delhi” if party leaders, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, call upon him to come to the national capital, talk and if need arises, join the party in order to defeat the BJP at all costs in Gujarat. Vaghela had quit the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after he was removed as its Gujarat unit president last year after the Rajya Sabha elections. He runs an organisation called the Praja Shakti Morcha. With the death of Patel, who wielded immense power in the Congress, and Congress’s longest-serving chief minister and veteran leader Madhavsinh Solanki, Vaghela perhaps sees room for a senior politician like him in the grand old party.
That the Patidars are mobilising is evident from the Unjha meeting of the Leuva and Kadva Patels held last week. In Surat, where the Patidar quota agitation led by Hardik Patel saw the maximum mobilisation in 2015, the Tiranga Yatra of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) was not permitted by the police on the Republic Day last month. Soon, several banners had sprung up in Patidar neighbourhoods saying: “Ekaj mang, Varachha mange Sarkari college” (Varachha has a single demand… a government college), and “Ladse NSUI, Jitse Vidhyarthi (NSUI will fight and students will win)”. Congress had seen maximum gains in the Surat Municipal Corporation elections held after the quota agitation, especially in the Patidar dominated areas. The party has 36 seats in the 116 strong BJP-dominated SMC of which 30 are Patidar corporators.
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