Gujarat Congress, Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil
New Congress party chief Shaktisinh Gohil with Rahul Gandhi: Congress’s inability to form the government in Gujarat over the last two decades, and consecutive losses in various polls have led many party leaders to join the BJP. Pic: @shaktisinhgohil

Gujarat Congress falls apart within a week after new party chief takes over

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The internal conflicts and strife within Gujarat Congress has come out in the open in less than a week after Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil took over as state party chief.

In the most recent development, two veteran Congress leaders have written a letter to the AICC, bypassing the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president. The letter expresses their disgruntlement against four Congress leaders termed as “Chandal Chowkdi” (the vicious four) and they want the high command to expel these leaders from the party.

The letter claimed that the four leaders have been, “manipulating the party’s high command and the state president to fulfill their own interests”.

“The four leaders in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Rajkot districts are preventing the hard-working Congress workers on the ground to ensure an electoral victory,” the letter further stated.

Added to this, Imran Khedawala, Congress MLA from Jamalpur Khadia seat in Ahmedabad and Gyasuddin Sheikh, the party’s former MLA from Dariyapur, Ahmedabad penned a letter to the GPCC president Shaktisinh Gohil, seven days after the latter took over his new post.

“Several Congress leaders are creating havoc for the party in the state and are misleading the high command in Delhi,” read the letter.

Also read: Tall order for new Gujarat Cong chief Gohil: Tackle infighting, revive party

Reportedly, the Gujarat Congress chief met the two leaders on June 24 morning and attempted to resolve the issues. “The party president has assured us that there will be action taken and there will be systemic change in the party at the state level,” former MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh said.

“Leaders of the party are fighting with each other rather than standing up to the BJP. Some leaders, in fact, are acting as if they belong to the BJP and not the Congress. They don’t want the party to benefit in the state. They are more interested in betterment of either themselves or the ruling party,” said a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.

The big ticket exit from Congress

Meanwhile, even as the Congress is grappling with its internal squabbles and strife and dwindling support in the state, a tall OBC leader Gova Rabari quit the party last week to join the BJP.

An immensely popular leader from the Maldhari (pastoral) community in the predominantly agrarian district of Banaskantha in north Gujarat, Rabari was inducted into the BJP earlier this week by the state BJP president C R Paatil.

Paatil, in fact, travelled to Deesa in Banaskantha district to formally welcome Rabari, his son Sanjay Rabari to the party along with the supporters.

Rabari is yet to make a statement in public after joining the saffron party. However, reports suggest that the deteriorating state of the Congress party in Gujarat that has been facing repeated electoral losses since the 2017 assembly polls, is the primary reason for Rabari to quit the Congress. Also, the lack of leadership and internal strife has prompted the OBC leader to jump ship.

Two influential BJP leaders from north Gujarat have played a crucial role in bringing Rabari and his son to the BJP fold. Tharad MLA and president Shankar Chaudhary, and Siddhpur MLA Balvantsinh Rajput had been in touch with Govabhai Rabari’s for months until he finally joined BJP.

Also read: On course-correction mode, Cong woos Gujarat voters with ‘grievance campaign’

Implications of Rabari joining BJP on Gujarat politics

Govabhai Rabari’s move from Congress to BJP holds significant implications for the political scenario in Gujarat. Rabari, a resident of Deesa taluka in Banaskantha has been a tall leader from the region for the past 35 years. Apart from being an MLA from three different seats in north Gujarat, Rabari had always been a key leader in the politics of the ‘cooperative’ sector for the Congress.

The OBC leader had in the past, held various positions ranging from sarpanch to district panchayat president and also been the chairman of the Deesa marketing yard for fifteen years, which he recently won again after a gap of ten years. His son Sanjay Rabari contested the 2022 state polls as Congress candidate from Deesa seat.

Last week, Rabari while expressing his intention to switch to the BJP, in a public gathering, stated that, “The decision is not mine alone, I have the backing of my supporters and my community in joining the saffron party.”

Rabari’s exit from the party is yet another jolt for the Gujarat Congress that has been battling a leadership crisis since 2017.

“Congress’s inability to form the government in Gujarat over the last two decades, and consecutive losses in various polls have led many leaders to join the BJP,” said a Congress party worker from Ahmedabad.

Noticeably, the Congress’ is at its weakest in Gujarat post 2022 state polls when the party couldn’t win enough seats to retain the status of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Although, the party has been in damage control mode and launched its public outreach programme ‘jan manch’ to revive itself, various leaders within the Congress seem to have given up hope that the party in Gujarat will ever bounce back in the near future.

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