Can Congress come back to power in Gujarat after 22 years?
Ahmedabad, Mar 18: Intense lobbying has started for nomination as Congress' chief ministerial candidate in Gujarat assembly polls to be held later this year. Ever since the party hinted at fighting the polls with a CM face, social media campaigns projecting various leaders have become the order of the day in Gujarat Congress.
The front runners in the race are Leader of Opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Bharatsinh Solanki, according to party leaders. Other probables are national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhwadia and Siddarth Patel, both former state unit chiefs.
"There is a race between Vaghela and Solanki to get declared as the chief ministerial candidate and intense lobbying is on with the central leadership," Congress sources said. Many in the party believe that Congress this time has a good chance to defeat the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state. They say factors like the absence of Modi from the scheme of things in Gujarat, Patel quota agitation, Dalit unrest, anti-incumbency and want of a credible leader in the BJP could all work in Congress' favour.
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The BJP has been in power in Gujarat since 1998. Projection of a strong CM face will give it an edge in the poll, said some leaders, who do not want to be identified. Supporters of Vaghela have launched a Facebook campaign page 'Vaghela as CM' to push his candidature. The page describes Vaghela as the only available option with the Congress to defeat the BJP in Gujarat.
Posters supporting Solanki have come up at places projecting him as a chief ministerial probable. Party sources said that both the camps are making all attempts to win over the support of other state leaders. Also, their trips to Delhi have become a frequent these days. Vaghela flew to Delhi earlier this week to meet Ahmed Patel, the political secretary of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Patel is from Gujarat and is said to have a decisive say in Gujarat party affairs. In an earlier interview to PTI, Solanki had indicated that the party could declare a chief ministerial face in Gujarat, on the lines of Punjab.