Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Friday claimed that the party had suspended him 24 hours ago, ANI reported. He said he quit all party posts, and as leader of Opposition in Gujarat, but that he would not join the Bharatiya Janata Party.
His comments come days after his rift with the Congress leadership came to the fore.
“My party has shown me the door,” Vaghela said at a rally organised for his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar. “I will not retire from politics,” he said, claiming that revolt was “in his blood”. “I don’t care what loss I have to bear, I can not see injustice happening.”
Earlier in the day, Vaghela had hinted at quitting the party and had told the media that he was going to make an announcement during his birthday celebrations.
Vaghela’s statements come amid reports that eight Congress MLAs in Gujarat had voted for National Democratic Alliance’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind over Opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar.
Vaghela had earlier demanded to be the face of the party’s campaign and the chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming Gjarat Assembly elections. However, state Congress leader Ahmed Patel had told him that it would be unfair to select Vaghela over other Gujarat party leaders such as Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki, The Times of India reported.
In June, Vaghela had said that the party leadership, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, “lacked foresight”. “You are heading for committing suicide. There is a big ditch ahead, if you want to fall, then go on. I won’t stay on this path,” he had said.
Vaghela was a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader who had revolted against the party leadership in 1995. In October 1996, he floated the Rashtriya Janata Party and became the chief minister of Gujarat with support from the Congress. In 1998, the RJP had merged with the Congress.