Over a fortnight after he had met Rahul Gandhi and announced his decision to tie up with the Congress for the Gujarat elections, JD(U) (Sharad Yadav faction) acting chief Chhotubhai Vasava is waiting for a seat-sharing agreement between the two parties.
The rival Nitish Kumar faction of the JD(U), meanwhile, is set to announce its candidates for half-a-dozen constituencies soon without even exploring the possibility of an alliance with the BJP. “We will hopefully announce our candidates after two days,” Chhotu Vasava told The Indian Express Thursday. “I had staked claim on 25 seats during my meeting with Rahulji along with Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot on October 28, but I will settle for not less than 10-12 seats,” Vasava said.
Sources indicated, however, that the Congress may not offer Vasava more than a couple of seats, including Jhagadia, which he represents. “We have been fighting from two constituencies anyway,” Vasava said, when it was pointed out that this was what the Congress may finally offer to him.
The quota of seats aside, the more important issue for Vasava is a call from Rahul Gandhi. Having played a crucial role in the re-election of Ahmed Patel to Rajya Sabha, Vasava is looking for a long-term alliance with the Congress. Nominations for the first phase of polling close on November 21 and for the second phase on November 27.
A tribal leader, Vasava is influential in Bharuch and Narmada districts where he has an alliance with the Congress at a local level. He is a campaigner for a separate Bhil state comprising parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
As for the Nitish Kumar faction of the JD(U), party secretary general K C Tyagi told The Indian Express: “We will come out with our list of candidates in a day or two. We are not looking beyond the Bharuch and Chhota Udepur areas.”
Tyagi claimed that thanks to consistent work among the people by Mama Baleshwar Dayal, erstwhile Socialists enjoy a lot of influence areas in the Bhil belt. As for the BJP, Tyagi said the JD(U) and the BJP had fought Gujarat polls separately even while George Fernandes headed the JD(U) and doubled as the convener of the NDA.
At a time when both JD(U) factions are flexing their muscles for the Gujarat battle, it is not yet clear who would get the “arrow” symbol of the party. The Election Commission, which is seized of the issue, is expected to give its verdict shortly.