Severe infighting in Gujarat Cong ahead of assembly polls

Mahesh Langa

Ahmedabad, Nov. 3 -- Defection of Gandhinagar Congress mayor and two councilors from Congress to BJP once again brought the simmering infighting in the opposition party's cadres on the surface just ahead of the assembly polls. As a result of the defection by three councilors, the civic body in Gandhinagar will now have BJP rule. They have left the party because of severe competition of over a dozen leaders to get party ticket from five assembly seats in Gandhinagar.

"In Gandhinagar North, the Congress ticket contenders are Indravijaysinh Gohil, who is not a local and Nishit Vyas, who is a Brahmin while the seat has maximum Khastriya votes while from Gandhinagar south segment, the party is considering to field Narhari Amin, who lost two consecutive polls in 2002 and 2007," a local Congress leader said.

"Gandhinagar south is dominated by Thakor community so we demand that the Congress must field a Thakor candidate and not Narhari Amin, who is a Patel," Gandhinagar Congress leader Sendhaji Thakor said, opposing Amin's likely candidature.

"We will not vote for imported leader from here."

Similarly, several other district and city units of the party have severe infighting among the local leaders, which if not contained, is likely to mar party's prospects in the assembly polls.

Despite claims by state leaders regarding unity, the fact remains that at grassroot level, party leaders still remain divided in groups. Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia, former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela and leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil have often held that all leaders have forgotten their internal differences to taken on the decade old Narendra Modi government in the state.

However, ground reality does not bear out the claims of the state leaders. For example, in Surat city, the Congress party's first public convention was largely a flop show on account of thin crowd because the city unit of the party is divided among four different groups who keep fighting against each other instead of fighting against the BJP as a group.

In Sabarkantha district, former MP and AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry and local MLA Ashwin Kotwal don't see eye to eye. "Kotwal and Mistry have always been at loggerheads and will try to damage each other, which eventually damage the Congress party," a local leader from Sabarkantha said.

Banaskantha is another district unit where local Congress MP and local leaders have no unity among themselves and same is the situation in Jamnagar unit where local MP does not get along with local MLAs from the district.

"Our MP ensures that Congress candidates in the assembly polls are defeated," a Congress MLA from Jamnagar claimed.

In Junagadh, the entire unit is divided into two groups led by former MP Jasubhai Barad and former minister Jasabhai Barad.

"Jasubhai believes that Jasabhai was instrumental in his defeat in the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 while Jasabhai believes that Jasubhai had ensured his defeat in the 2007 Assembly polls from Somnath assembly segment," a Congress leader said elaborating on the bickering among the local leaders.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.