The Congress in Gujarat today said the central leadership is likely to announce the name of the new Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in the state in the next two days. Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki indicated the name of the new CLP leader could be announced on January 5 or 6 by the party high command after going through the report prepared by central observers Ashok Gehlot and Jitendra Singh. The observers held meetings on the issue with newly elected MLAs yesterday and today. “Both the observers would first submit their report to the party high command in Delhi. Based on that report, the party will announce the name of the new CLP leader at the earliest, may be tomorrow or the day after,” Solanki said.
He was talking to reporters after the observers ended a marathon round of one-to-one meetings with party MLAs today. While some of the MLAs conveyed their choice for the CLP leader to the observers yesterday, the remaining legislators did so today during the meetings. The CLP chief would by default become the Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat assembly. The Congress, which won 77 seats in the 182-member House in the last month’s elections, is the larges opposition party in the state. Though Patidar legislator from Amreli Paresh Dhanani is being considered as the front-runner for the post, senior MLAs such as Kunvarji Bavaliya and Vikram Madam have jumped into the fray citing ‘seniority’ and ‘support’ of MLAs.
Meanwhile, Patidar quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel today came out in support of Dhanani. “The Leader of Opposition should be the one who is popular among the masses. Paresh Dhanani fits in to that criteria,” Hardik Patel told reporters in Surat today. Responding to Hardik Patel’s statement, Gehlot asserted the final decision will be taken on the basis of opinions shared by the MLAs and not because of any pressure. “No one should be under impression that the Congress will take a decision (on the CLP leader) because of some pressure. We will take into consideration only the views expressed by our MLAs,” the former Rajasthan Chief Minister told reporters. The 24-year-old Patel quota stir leader had supported the Congress in the December polls.