Gandhinagar, Aug 16 Rebel Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who was sacked last week for trying to sabotage the winning prospects of the party’s official nominee Ahmed Patel in the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections, resigned as a legislator on Wednesday.
Vaghela, who was elected in 2012 from the Kapadvanj constituency in Gujarat Assembly, tendered his resignation to Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora in the presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
With this, the Congress party’s strength in the state Assembly has been reduced to 43.
The party had already come down to this effective number from its total 57 during the elections to the Upper House after six of its MLAs quit in July-end, while eight others, including Vaghela, cross-voted for BJP candidates — party president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput, who happens to be the father-in-law of Vaghela’s MLA son Mahendrasinh.
All the six who quit and eight who cross-voted were expelled for six years by the Congress the very next day of the Rajya Sabha elections in which Ahmed Patel scraped through with the lone vote of Janata Dal-United’s maverick legislator Chhotubhai Vasava. Vasava defied his party’s new union with the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and voted for the Congress candidate.
The votes of two legislators close to Vaghela were cancelled because they violated the rule of showing their ballot paper only to the party’s official polling agent and displayed it to the rival party’s candidates. This came as a blessing in disguise for Ahmed Patel.
Vaghela, who had quit as Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly while revolting against his party on July 21, had been openly critical of the Congress leadership and claimed that his request to the party high command to prepare for the December Assembly polls in right earnest was not being heard.
Asked about his presence when Vaghela was submitting his resignation papers, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters that, “When such a senior leader is resigning, it is natural we remain present with him on such a day.”
Vaghela only called it a “courtesy”, while he spent lighter moments with the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel in the Speaker’s chamber.
This sparked off speculation about the maverick leader making a comeback to the BJP which he had split and quit in the 1990s. He made an almost similar attempt with the Congress this time around.
Vaghela rejected all speculations. He claimed, “I have made my stand clear. I am not joining any existing party or any new party. I am indeed in politics but won’t join anywhere, I have the people’s blessings and I don’t need anyone else’s.”