(Eds: Adds inputs from Guj Cong and Kamat’s tweets) Ahmedabad, Apr 26 (PTI) The Congress today appointed former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as its general secretary in-charge for Gujarat in place of Gurudas Kamat, ahead of the state Assembly polls due later this year.
Kamat, meanwhile, welcomed the decision to give the charge of Gujarat to Gehlot.
The Congress high command has revamped the entire team in Gujarat by replacing the general secretary incharge and appointed four new secretaries.
The move to appoint the new team is being seen as a firm step by the Congress to give a tough fight to the BJP government in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The development comes at a time when some state Congress leaders are vying to be the chief ministerial face for the Gujarat polls.
Apart from Gehlot, the other four members of his team are Youth Congress chief Rajeev Satav, Harshvardhan Sapkal, Varsha Gaikwad and Jeetu Patwari.
“Congress president Sonia Gandhiji has assigned the task of looking after Gujarat affairs to a new AICC team, headed by senior leader and former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot,” Gujarat Congress president Bhartsinh Solanki told reporters here today.
“Kamatji did good work when he was the in-charge of Gujarat. But the party has taken a decision to appoint Gehlotji and four other secretaries to look after Gujarat affairs,” Solanki said, without giving any reason for Kamat being replaced in the election year.
Kamat, who handled the party’s affairs till now, has had internal problems within the party in Maharashtra after the Congress’ debacle in state civic polls.
In the last seven months, he had been instrumental in the process of selection of candidates for the Assembly polls and organising various public programmes, including a demand of reservation for the economically backward people among upper castes.
The Patel community, which is also agitating for quota, had earlier appreciated such a move by the Congress.
The Congress is hopeful that it can give a tough fight to the BJP, which lacks a strong leader to head the state after Narendra Modi became the prime minister in 2014.
Various agitations, like the Patels demanding quota, the Dalit uprising after the Una flogging incident and demands of the OBC communities from the government, have also made the Congress hopeful of defeating the BJP in the state.
Last week, Kamat attended a meeting called by Leader of Opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela-led group in which 36 sitting Congress MLAs, out of their strength of 54 in the state Assembly, demanded that the latter be declared as the chief ministerial candidate.
However, the Solanki camp and other Congress old timers are apparently not in favour of projecting Vaghela as the party’s chief ministerial face.
Solanki himself is in the race for being the chief ministerial face of the party.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had rushed to Gujarat after the meeting of Vaghela group. He had tried to placate things by listening to all the sections of the party.
Solanki today said he spoke to Gehlot on phone and invited him and his team to participate in a tribal rally to be held on May 1 at Dediyapada in Bharuch district.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is slated to address the rally.
Meanwhile, Kamat welcomed the decision to give the charge of Gujarat to Gehlot.
“I welcome the decision of @INCIndia to give charge of Gujarat to Ashok Gehlot and 4 secretaries,” Kamat, who also holds charge of Rajasthan, said in a tweet.
“Had asked Cong VP to relieve me on 3rd Feb the day Congress list of candidates (for Mumbai civic polls) was declared in Mumbai & again on 21st Feb day of polling,” he said in another tweet.
“Followed my request to VP Rahul Gandhi with a letter to Congress President. Met VP last Wed &asked to be relieved of all responsibilities,” he said.
“I thank Honble Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi and Congress VP Shri Rahul Gandhi for the opportunity to serve the Party,” said Kamat, who is also a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.