Congress in Gujarat may project a CM face for 2017 polls

AHMEDABAD: GujaratCongress president Bharatsinh Solanki has not ruled out the possibility of the party projecting a chief ministerial face in 2017 assembly polls to take on BJP, which has been in power in the state for nearly two decades.

Claiming that the Congress is well equipped to take on BJP in the Prime Minister’s home state, Solanki dubbed Vijay Rupani as a “rubber stamp” Chief Minister and claimed the change of guard earlier this year did not help the ruling party which has been grappling with Patel quota and dalit stirs.

The Congress has not fought elections projecting a chief ministerial candidate in the last 20 years in Gujarat.

With the exit of Modi from Gujarat political scene leaving a leadership vacuum in BJP, Congress is hoping to make a mark in the 2017 elections.

“Though it (the leadership question) will be decided by the high command, after Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, we cannot rule it out. Let’s wait and see,” Solanki said.

Congress has named former Delhi CM Sheila Dixit as its chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh.

In a direct attack on Chief Minister Rupani, who replaced Anandiben Patel, Solanki said he is a “rubber stamp of BJP president Amit Shah.”

“By changing chief minister,the BJP has lost on both fronts. Replacing a Patel and a woman Chief Minister by Rupani has not impacted the administration in a positive way. Things have gone from bad to worse,” he said, when asked if the change of guard will prove disadvantageous to Congress.

The Congress, after remaining in opposition for last 20 years, is hoping for a revival, as the BJP is facing tough challenges in the form of Patel quota agitation and Dalit protests after the Una flogging incident.

“Gujarat’s political scenario has changed due to two agitations – Patel quota movement and Dalit agitation. Come what may, both the communities have decided to defeat BJP in the 2017 elections,” Solanki claimed.

Solanki is not worried about the Prime Minister’s charisma and sounded confident that party will take on BJP in Modi’s home state mustering all its strength as he claimed that the days factional fighting in Congress were over.

Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat for four terms, had defeated Congress repeatedly in the state.

“Modi’s charisma has been diminishing after he became Prime Minister of the country. He has not controlled price rise. His flip-flop on Pakistan policy, his alliance with Mehbooba Mufti ( in Jammu and Kashmir) and his demonetisation decision has eroded his image among the common people,” Solanki claimed.

“The difference between vote percentage received by the BJP and Congress in Gujarat has not been over 10 per cent in past elections. We need to bridge that difference and for that we have started our preparations long back,” he said.

“Another thing is, BJP, being in power for 20 years, has become arrogant, selfish and corrupt and has forgotten to behave in a courteous manner with citizens, which is going to hurt them badly,” he claimed.