AHMEDABAD:Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress last month, said today that he hadn’t voted for the party’s Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha election and twisted the knife by commenting: “Who will vote for a losing candidate.” Ahmed Patel, the political advisor to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is seeking a fifth Rajya Sabha term but his chances of re-election are bleak, predicted Mr Vaghela. “He doesn’t stand a chance, won’t even cross 40… Even legislators currently with Congress will not vote for him,” said the 77-year-old veteran, who delivered the first blow to the Congress by exiting the party last month.
“When the Congress is not winning, what was the point in voting for Ahmed Patel? I haven’t voted for Ahmed Patel,” he declared.
The Congress has 51 legislators in the Gujarat assembly, including Mr Vaghela, who remains a legislator after quitting Congress. The Congress has ordered all its legislators to vote for Ahmed Patel, warning that defiance will attract career-altering penalty.
At least six of these 51 are known loyalists of Mr Vaghela, who had been upset for a while that the party had refused to project him as Chief Minister when elections are held in Gujarat later this year.
The party had counted on Mr Vaghela’s hints that he may still vote for Ahmed Patel, with whom he said he shared a good rapport. “…I have a good relation with Ahmedbhai Patel, I have discussed with Ahmed Patel, so it is our inner matter between me and Ahmed Patel,” he said cryptically yesterday.
This morning, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh appealed to him in a series of tweets, one of which said: “Don’t forget what Congress has done for you. You are a Rajput. Please ensure Ahmed Bhai’s victory. He has been our friend and supporter.”
But Mr Vaghela, a former BJP stalwart, finally revealed his cards today, after casting his vote.
The Congress had learnt nothing, he said, despite repeated jolts and counsel from its leaders. “The Congress should not have played with the reputation of a Patel,” he sneered.