Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela’s son Mahendrasinh, a two-time Congress MLA, today joined the BJP. Mahendrasinh Vaghela, who had quit the Congress last year itself, however, evaded a direct reply on whether senior Vaghela would also join the BJP now, saying his father will take a call himself regarding his next move. Before the 2017 Assembly polls, Shankarsinh, then a legislator, had led a rebellion in the Congress, which resulted in 13 MLAs quitting the party.
Some of them had later joined the BJP and fought the elections, which saw the saffron party retaining power in Gujarat though with a reduced margin. Mahendrasinh has joined the BJP within weeks of senior OBC leader Kunwarji Bavaliya quitting the Congress to join the ruling party in the state. Bavaliya was made a Cabinet minister on July 3, the day when he quit the Congress. Soon after joining the BJP, Mahendrasinh attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying that given his style of working, a revival of the country’s oldest party does not look possible in the near future.
Mahendrasinh was elected to the Gujarat Assembly on a Congress ticket for two consecutive terms from Bayad in North Gujarat — 2007 to 2012 and 2012 to 2017. “Today, two-time MLA and son of former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela (Mahendrasinh Vaghela) has joined the BJP,” state BJP president Jitu Vaghani announced here. Mahendrasinh had voted against Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls held in August 2017.
He had quit the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections held in December last year. However, he did not contest the elections or join any party then. Asked why he has joined the BJP now, Mahendrasinh said, “The style of working of Gandhi will not revive that party in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country in the near future.” He also praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The development comes at a time when Shah is on a visit to Gujarat, his home state. The BJP chief arrived here late last night and took part in “mangla aarti” (auspicious morning prayers) at the Lord Jagannath temple today.