The Congress on Wednesday held marathon meetings in Delhi to zero in on its candidates for the Gujarat Assembly elections even as sources indicated that negotiations with the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti for fielding mutually acceptable candidates in about two dozen seats was delaying the finalisation of the list. The party screening committee met for several hours to shortlist the candidates. Sources in the Congress said a meeting of the central election committee, which was scheduled for Thursday, was postponed till Friday. Sources said the decision on around two dozen seats, for which the party is in talks with PAAS, is yet to be concluded. The Congress central election committee had one meeting last week and cleared about 70 names but the party is yet to come out with its first list of candidates.
While the Congress was immersed in candidate selection, state Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who is in Delhi, said he will neither extend support to any political party nor share stage with them. He, however, said his aim was to oust the BJP from power and announced he will tour the state from November 26, which is observed as Constitution Day, and address joint meetings with Patel.
The 10-day campaign by the two will conclude on December 6, the death anniversary of B R Ambedkar, and the two will address a rally in Ahmedabad. Representatives of trade unions, tribal leaders and farmer associations would attend the meeting, he said.
Mevani said the defeat of the BJP on its “turf” Gujarat was necessary to oust the party from power at the Centre in 2019. He, however, would not openly join hands with the Congress. He said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had agreed to include 90 per cent of his demands in the party’s manifesto. The two had a meeting earlier this month. Mevani predicted that the BJP would not get more than 80 seats.
Coming out in support of Patel, who is at the centre of a controversy after videos purportedly showing the PAAS leader with a woman went viral, Mevani said a desperate BJP is now talking about sex CDs, sidestepping the issue of development.
On ties with the Congress, he said he will not extend support to any party. He said there is no confusion in his position as the people of Gujarat understand who is to be defeated this time. “We have an exclusive, substantial space… why should we extend support to any party… or go to any political party…. The people of Gujarat know who they should vote for to defeat the BJP.”