Senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela today asserted he had no plans to join the BJP even as he once again rubbished reports that he was unhappy with the Congress, after the party’s pointsman in Gujarat Ashok Gehlot rushed to his residence and held a meeting. Vaghela, who returned to Gandhinagar last night after a week-long stay abroad, accused the BJP of spreading such rumours ahead of the state Assembly polls to be held later this year. The Congress leader was speaking at his residence at a joint press meet with Gehlot. Before the press meet, Gehlot had a meeting with Vaghela. “Who told you that I am having any problem with Congress? Who told you that I am leaving the party and joining BJP? These are all rumours spread by BJP ahead of polls. “Neither I have contacted any BJP leader nor have any of them contacted me till date,” the 77-year-old former Gujarat chief minister said.
An air of suspense has prevailed over Vaghela’s next move since he set out on a foreign tour on May 17 after ‘unfollowing’ Congress scion Rahul Gandhi and many other party leaders on his official Twitter account. Gehlot, during his meeting with the Gujarat strongman, discussed the party’s strategy for the Assembly polls. Responding to queries on his rumoured differences with state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki, Vaghela said “I never had any problem with Solanki. We are all part of a team. I do not have any difference of opinion with Solanki”.
Asked about the speculation triggered by the recent Delhi visit of his son and MLA Mahendrasinh Vaghela, he said he had gone there just to meet senior party leader Ahmed Patel regarding some work about their educational institute. “Though BJP leaders are trying to lure Mahendrasinh to join the party, he will not quit Congress,” Vaghela claimed. Gehlot also refuted the impression that Vaghela is not happy with the party. “It seems that there was some confusion among the media and the people about Vaghela. But I want to tell you that he was never unhappy with the party. He is a senior and good- hearted person and the entire party stands by him. I hope that everything will be alright in the coming days,” Gehlot said.
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In March, Vaghela had claimed that he was not in the race to be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly elections. Last month, 36 of the 57 Congress MLAs had demanded that Vaghela should be made the party’s chief ministerial face if the Congress wanted to win the polls. Posters were also put up in various cities in the state demanding the party veteran be projected as the CM face. However, Gehlot had ruled out naming the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the polls. For Vaghela, who quit the BJP in 1995, the coming polls might be the last chance to aim for the coveted post.