Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Friday announced that the party high command had expelled him on Thursday. Addressing a rally in Gandhinagar on his 77th birthday, Vaghela said the party had shown him the door “24 hours ago”. “I’m freeing myself from Congress or any party from now,” the leader asserted. “To all my supporters and MLAs who are behind me… Do whatever you like… I’m no longer in any position,” he told the gathering. “I am not going to join any political party,” he added.
“What had I entered public life for? For others. Not for myself,” he lamented. He invoked Lord Shankar and said he was given the power to tolerate the “poison”. The statement hinted to the comment made by the Congress warning Vaghela not to “play any politics” under the guise of his birthday celebrations infront of his supporters and legislators.
In response, Vaghela on Thursday evening said, “Whoever wants to come can come and whoever does not, should not. A party has the right to stop its workers and workers have the right to decide what they want to do. They are not bonded labourers.” In his speech at the rally, Vaghela said, “Don’t know what my party thought I’d say.”
IANS reported that he added that he was also told that his public utterances would not be tolerated by the party any further.
Times Now reported that the Congress party categorically refuted these claims of Vaghela of being expelled. Vaghela has been passively showing his displeasure for the party for a while now. NDTV Khabar reported that Vaghela had allegedly unfollowed Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter account recently. The report went on to add that the rebel leader had held meetings with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah. He also revealed in the speech that he had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi a fews days before making the announcement. “A few days back I met Sonia ji in person, I told her that I will not break her trust by joining BJP,” he said at the rally.
The rumours related to Shah could cause issues with the Congress during the upcoming Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections. According to NDTV, Vaghela had quit the BJP 17 years ago and merged his RJP with the Congress. However, he still shares the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) connection with Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vaghela dismissed the BJP rumours in his speech as well.
According to News18, Vaghela allegedly wanted to be chief minsiterial candidate in 2016, but it didn’t pan out and Congress went for Vijay Rupani for the position, a decision that still leaves some resentment for the Congress leader. This resentment poured out in his speech, when questioned, “What kind of organisation are you running…who will stay if it goes on like this?” He further added, “Revolt is in my blood. I don’t care what loss I have to bear. I cannot see injustice happening.”
This event, similar to another event held by Vaghela in the Gandhinagar Town Hall last month, was attended by scores of his supporters minus legislators. Friday’s event displayed a veritable show of strength with MLAs of the Congress, two of Nationalist Congress Party and one of the Janata Dal-United attending the event.
Gujarat Congress is yet to release an official statement on the claims.