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Shankersinh Vaghela says willing to coordinate between regional parties to create 'anti-BJP front' for 2019 Lok Sabha polls

Ahmedabad: Former Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Tuesday expressed his desire to play the role of a coordinator between regional parties to forge an "anti-BJP" front in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Vaghela said though he has not been approached by any regional outfit for coordination, his supporters have urged him to unite such parties to create an "anti-BJP" front ahead of the polls.

The former Gujarat chief minister said, "My supporters are of the opinion that I should play the role of a coordinator to unite various regional parties which are against the ruling BJP. Even I felt that better coordination is needed between parties." The 78-year-old politician was talking to reporters in Gandhinagar after a meeting of his supporters.

File photo of Shankersinh Vaghela. PTI

File photo of Shankersinh Vaghela. PTI

"I am not in favour of a Third Front. In an election, it’s always one versus another. There are always two players. My idea is to create a second front. I am talking about an alliance of various parties, though ideologically opposite, which would take on the BJP by coming together," he said.

To explain his point, he gave the example of the CPI (M) and the Congress, which are against each other in Kerala and West Bengal, but want to fight against their common opponent the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

"I firmly believe anti-BJP votes must never get divided. Thus, my intention is to unite regional parties such as the TRS, the TDP, the CPI (M) and the NCP, and clear their differences in order to give a united fight to the BJP," said Vaghela.

He claimed BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani, who represents the Gandhinagar seat in the Lok Sabha, has expressed his desire to contest the polls in 2019 too. "I met Advani and many other leaders during my travel across the country recently. Advani told me that he will fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar," claimed Vaghela.

Commenting on reports about his growing proximity with Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Vaghela claimed he is not joining the NCP or any other party. Notably, Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, who was a Congress MLA till 2017, recently joined the BJP.

Vaghela, a former Union minister, himself was with the BJP till 1998. The Kshatriya strongman had quit the Congress after the Rajya Sabha polls last year and floated 'Jan Vikalp', a third front, ahead of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls.

However, all the 100-odd candidates of the new front lost the polls held in December. In August 2017, Vaghela, then the Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, along with seven other Congress MLAs had reportedly cross-voted in favour of the BJP candidate during the Rajya Sabha polls and then resigned from the party.

Despite the cross-voting, Congress candidate Ahmed Patel narrowly won the contest by defeating BJP nominee Balwantsinh Rajput.


Updated Date: Sep 19, 2018 11:16 AM

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