All is not well in the Gujarat Congress as one of the main stalwarts of the party, Indranil Rajyaguru, resigned earlier this week on 25 June.
Rajyaguru had willingly left his safety net, Rajkot East constituency, only to lose to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in the Rajkot West constituency, which has been the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) bastion for over three decades. He was the richest candidate in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections.
The resignation came on the day the Congress national leadership appointed new presidents for nine districts, including Porbandar and Rajkot, and three city units in Gujarat.
‘Party Favoured Cheats Over Loyalists’
Rajyaguru said he is unhappy with the way the party is functioning under the present state leadership. Those who hurt the party’s chances in the 2017 polls were promoted to higher posts while those who slaved for its good performance were given the cold shoulder, he alleged.
However, Rajyaguru, in a press conference on 25 June, said he will not join the BJP.
I will not join the BJP but will continue to serve the people of Rajkot. For me, politics is the best medium to serve the people. However, there are many other ways to work for them.Indranil Rajyaguru
The Quint tried to reach Rajyaguru. But, according to sources, he is now in the USA and will return on 16 July.
“We do not deny Rajyaguru’s importance and clout in Rajkot. In fact, he willingly contested the elections from Rajkot West. But he too must toe the party line. It’s not like you wouldn’t eat the food your wife makes if the vegetable is not of your liking,” Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi told The Quint.
Congress Corporators from RMC Support Rajyaguru
In the aftermath of Rajyaguru’s exit, at least 17 corporators of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) threatened to quit the Congress if the former MLA’s resignation from the party was accepted. The Congress has 33 corporators in the 72-member House of the RMC.
We agree with Rajyaguru that loyalists are being ignored and those who had acted against the party are being given posts. We have decided to meet state leaders and Gujarat in-charge Rajiv Satav and press them not to accept his resignation. If the party accepts his resignation, then all 17 corporators will quit the party.Vashram Sagathiya, Leader of Opposition, Rajkot Municipal Corporation
Manish Doshi said the corporators have damaged the party’s position in the RMC.
There are 70 seats in RMC, of which the Congress has 33. The BJP’s corporators are already fighting amongst each other and it was only a matter of time before we would wrest power from them. Instead our members walked out of the board and the Mayor was elected from BJP camp. We don’t have a single Corporation body out of the eight in Gujarat, and now we have missed the bus because of them.Manish Doshi, Gujarat Congress Spokesperson
Trouble for Congress in Ahmedabad
Meanwhile, disgruntled Congress workers disrupted a press conference held by Gujarat Congress President, Amit Chavda, at the party headquarters in Ahmedabad. The incensed mob tore up posters, protesting the appointment of Shashikant Patel as the city unit chief. Instead they wanted appointment of Nirav Bakshi to the post. Shashikant Patel had contested the 2017 Assembly polls from Ghatlodia constituency and lost to Bhupendra Patel of the BJP.
Doshi, while criticising Nirav Bakshi, said that he was the former president of the Youth Congress and his father was a six-time corporator in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation; based on his clout he had demanded the top job.
“Our party functions in a democratic manner and if any Congress leader or worker has any issue with the party, he or she can table their issues at the office, but they should maintain the decorum of the office. Nirav Bakshi and his supporters barged into a meeting and ransacked the place, destroyed pictures of our iconic leaders. We have suspended him from the party. Bakshi should understand that there are other posts where he can make a difference. We are fighting a war and he damaged the party’s reputation over his personal battle.”
(With inputs from PTI.)