A day after he ‘unfollowed’ Rahul Gandhi and other party colleagues on Twitter, Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela today scotched speculation about returning to the BJP. Vaghela said that his decision to ‘unfollow’ the Congress vice president was not personal and that he will remain inactive on social media till the Gujarat assembly polls, due later this year, to stop “spreading of false messages and speculations” about him. There has been a demand by a section of state Congress leaders to declare Vaghela as the chief ministerial candidate but the party has made it clear that it will not name anyone for the post before the polls.
Vaghela also skipped an event organised by the party’s IT cell yesterday and his actions were seen as an indication of a possible rift in the party.Addressing the media in Gandhinagar today, Vaghela, however, said that he was not in the chief-ministerial race. He also clarified that he does not have any plans to retire at this stage. “Though I have already clarified earlier that I am not in the race to be the next chief minister, messages like ‘Bapu as CM’ were being circulated in the social media. Thus, to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding, I have decided to unfollow everyone,” Vaghela known popularly as ‘Bapu’, told reporters.
“There is nothing personal, as I have unfollowed everyone. I have decided to remain inactive on social media to stop spreading of false messages and speculations about me. I took that decision because it was adversely affecting our poll related planning,” the former chief minister of Gujarat said. Apart from unfollowing Rahul Gandhi and others from his twitter account, 77-year-old Vaghela, who is the Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, also deleted all the anti-BJP posts from his account, which fuelled speculations that he may leave the Congress and join the saffron party, which he had quit in 1996. Vaghela was absent at the event organised by the party’s IT cell yesterday which was attended by senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki.
Ironically, Patel had called upon the party cadres to increasingly use social media as a weapon to fight “Goebbelsian propaganda”. Social media is not a tool to exploit technology. Some persons use this medium to acquire power and then try to retain it by various marketing tools and spreading lies. Some people are only exploiting social media in a wrong manner, he said. “I urge IT cell workers to use social media in a positive manner to defeat those who are into spreading Goebbelsian Propaganda. Along with strengthening the party, we should also spread message of harmony and national integration,” he said.
Asked about speculation that he was unhappy with the Congress high command, Vaghela said he is very much with the party.
“Not just of BJP, I have asked my social media team to delete each and every negative post against everyone, as I do not like to spread negativity,” he said. Vaghela also asserted that he is not in the race to be the chief minister, and is ready to work under Solanki for the forthcoming state polls. Vaghela yesterday created ripples in political circles by claiming that he is not keen on contesting the Gujarat Assembly polls. Asked about his choice of constituency from where he wanted to contest the polls, Vaghela had said that he had contested a number of elections and it no longer held importance for him.
When asked to clarify, the Congress leader today said he does not have any plans to retire at this stage and will take a decision to contest the polls when the time comes.
“It is not my habit to blackmail or pressure the party. Whatever I said yesterday was in a lighter vein.
“I will take an appropriate decision about contesting when the election comes. Let my party ask me about it. I will convey my decision to them,” Vaghela said, adding that he is not joining te BJP and will continue to serve the Congress. In March, Vaghela had claimed he was not in the race for the chief minister’s post in the state assembly elections. Last month, 36 out of a total of 57 Congress MLAs had demanded that Vaghela be made the party’s chief ministerial face if the Congress wanted to win the polls. However, party in-charge for Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot, has ruled out naming party’s chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the polls.