Ahead of Narendra Modi's Gujarat tour, Congress divided on candidate picks as leaders warn they'll quit party

Ahmedabad: Congress' habitual problems have surfaced again in Gujarat as scenes of angry protests after announcement of candidates returned to haunt the party.

A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited campaign tour, Congress leaders had to call in the police to prevent furious cadres from creating ruckus at the party headquarters in Ahmedabad's Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, hours after it declared the third and the final list of candidates.

Congress leaders in several constituencies threatened to resign from the party if "imported candidates" were not withdrawn and replaced by "dedicated partymen” of their choice.

For instance in Kutch, from where Modi begins his tour on Monday, the entire Congress-controlled agriculture produce market committee along with hordes of supporters quit the Congress and joined the BJP in protest against official party nominees.

While the BJP too has been plagued by discontent over selection of candidates, the Congress has had to face tough questions from the party cadres since it was forced to accommodate OBC leader Alpesh Thakore and young Patidar leader Hardik Patel.

 Ahead of Narendra Modis Gujarat tour, Congress divided on candidate picks as leaders warn theyll quit party

Representational image. AFP

After that, some late arrangements were also being discussed with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Sharad Yadav faction of the Janata Dal-United led by its lone legislator and leader of the faction Chhotu Vasava.

The key reason for the protests is that a new system of picking candidates through consensus across the party’s rank and file monitored by a special team of party general secretaries had to be jettisoned for political expediency. It is worth noting that the consensus method was devised by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi himself.

Scores of party workers from Radhanpur, from where OBC leader Alpesh Thakore has been nominated, Patan, Vadodara and several other places laid siege at the state Congress office forcing the leaders to summon the police.

In fact, in North Gujarat's Radhanpur, as many as 2,000 Congress workers have threatened to resign from the party to protest the candidature of Alpesh Thakore, who joined the party just a month ago. A nominee of Alpesh Thakore has been nominated for the Bayad seat and the Nikol seat in Ahmedabad has gone to a member of Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) because the constituency has a large number of Patidars.

A wave of protest has also broken out around the nomination of lone sitting Muslim MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh from the Dariapur constituency in Ahmedabad, while anger was brewing in the city's Vejalpur constituency too. Meanwhile, in Patel-dominated Mehsana in North Gujarat, local district panchayat education committee chairman Rekhaben Chaudhary, (believed to be a supporter of expelled leader Shankarsinh Vaghela) resigned from the Congress over the nomination of Jivabhai Patel. The latter had earlier sought a BJP ticket for the neighbouring Kadi seat.

Updated Date: Nov 27, 2017 08:01:42 IST