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Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela today said that he was not in the race for party's chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming state assembly elections.
Vaghela, the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, however, asked the cadres to ensure the party's win in the polls to provide justice to the "oppressed class".
"Take it out of your mind that Bapu (Vaghela) is in the race for Chief Minister's post...It is a matter to be considered after we get majority. I withdraw myself from the race," he said at a party event organised here to kick-start the preparation for upcoming elections.
The state assembly elections are expected to be held towards the end of 2017.
Ever since the party hinted at fighting the polls with a CM face, social media campaigns projecting various leaders have become the order of the day in Gujarat Congress. Names of Vaghela and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Bharatsinh Solanki were among the front runners.
Vaghela said that it is important for the party to win the polls in order to ensure that the "oppressed class" gets justice. "It can happen only if we get a majority. We cannot do anything with two-three MLAs," he said.
Later, while interacting with reporters, Vaghela said that after the elections it is up to the MLAs and the party high command to choose the leader.
He also attacked the BJP alleging that the party won the Uttar Pradesh polls through polarisation of votes.
"In order to get votes, you (BJP) have killed humanity. Whatever happened in Uttar Pradesh was polarisation of votes between Hindu and Muslim, something that began in Gujarat since 2000...We will have to try our best to ensure that we get majority," he said.
State party president Bharatsinh Solanki said that Vaghela's announcement only meant that the final decision on the matter rested with the elected MLAs and the party high command.
"(Vaghela) meant to say that the decision on the CM's post is the job of MLAs and the high command. He said that let elections be held and party get majority, because only after that it will be decided by the party high command in consultation with the elected MLAs as to who will be the leader of Vidhan Sabha," Solanki told reporters.
He said that the party will also consider submissions made by workers during today's event that 50 per cent of poll tickets should be given to youths and at least one woman should be given candidature from each district.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP took a dig at Congress
saying that since the opposition party was not even in the race to form the government in Gujarat the issue of whether Vaghela wanted to be the CM candidate does not matter.
"Congress makes an appearance whenever there are polls. However, it disappears when the elections get over. After returning from Delhi two days back, the way Shankersinh has said that he is not in the race is a matter of political analysis. Congress itself is not in the race to form the government, so there is no question of its leaders being in the race for the CM's post," state BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said.
Today's meeting was attended by over 1,500 people, who aspire to the fight the upcoming Gujarat polls on Congress ticket. They had earlier filled forms to contest the 182 assembly seats.
Congress in-charge Gurudas Kamat was also present at the meeting.