Gujarat Congress chief Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday said senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela had tried to force the party to declare him their chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls, reported The Times of India. Gehlot said Vaghela knew the party high command would not accept his demands and used them as an excuse to quit the party.

“He demanded that he be declared the CM candidate, that the state party president be removed, and that he be given full authority to distribute tickets in the 2017 elections,” former Rajasthan Chief Minister Gehlot said.

Gehlot said no party would have accepted such demands. “He may be upset because of pressure from few top leaders, otherwise no leader will leave the party when elections are just four months away.” He also said Vaghela may have been blackmailed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and could have been under pressure from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate. “If the BJP tries to nail him, Congress will come out in full support of Vaghela,” Gehlot said. “The party does not hold any grudges about him.”

The Congress held its state executive meeting on Tuesday to discuss its strategy for the upcoming elections.

Vaghela’s exit from the Congress

On July 21, Vaghela had claimed that the party had suspended on Thursday. He had said he quit all party posts, and as leader of Opposition in Gujarat, he would not join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

His comments came days after his rift with the Congress leadership came to the fore.

“My party has shown me the door,” Vaghela had said at a rally organised for his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar. “I will not retire from politics,” he had said, claiming that revolt was “in his blood”. “I don’t care what loss I have to bear, I can not see injustice happening.”