Ahmedabad, Oct 15 (IANS) Former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Sunday said that people of Gujarat are now looking towards a “third alternative”, as they are unhappy with both the BJP and the Congress.
“The people of Gujarat voted for Congress since 1960, but their expectations were belied. They have been voting the BJP to power for last 22 years. But now, the voters are looking towards a third alternative, and that is where (the recently-formed political forum) Jan Vikalp comes up,” Vaghela said at India TV conclave.
Vaghela, who was Leader of the Opposition, announced his resignation from the Congress on his 77th birthday on July 21, which was soon followed by the resignation of six legislators who joined the BJP ahead of the August 7 Rajya Sabha election.
Vaghela had on September 19 announced his support to a third front – Jan Vikalp – in the state which was announced by Parthesh Patel, a former social media adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now to Vaghela. It has not been registered as a political party.
The former Congress leader also rejected the charges that he was trying to divide anti-BJP votes.
“Was Arvind Kejriwal trying to divide votes of Congress or BJP in Delhi? Was Mamata Banerjee trying to divide votes of Left and Congress in West Bengal?.
“The politics of third alternative works in the entire country. To say that ours is a B team of BJP or C team of Congress is incorrect,” he said.
However, Vaghela sidestepped queries about the likely result of Gujarat elections, saying: “The people of Gujarat will win. But it will not be easy to defeat the BJP, because it is in power both at the Centre and in Gujarat.”
He also claimed that the Congress could have achieved majority in 2012 elections. “But 28 candidates were changed half an hour before the closing of nominations. The High Command had intervened at the eleventh hour. We won 60 seats, and if we had won 28 more, we could have achieved majority mark in 2012,” he said.
The senior Gujarat leader revealed that BJP had offered him a Lok Sabha nomination in 2014, but he refused. “I was not ready to sacrifice my self-respect.”
Asked about what he told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ear after hugging him in 2014, Vaghela replied: “Well, it was I who started his hugging habit. He (Modi) then hugged (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, (the US President Barack) Obama, and now (Donald) Trump.
“But the issues that I had raised at that time remain. I had spoken about big expectations of people, return of Kashmiri Pandits to valley, Ram temple in Ayodhya and removal of Article 370. Nothing has been achieved so far,” he said.
“As for what I spoke in Modiji’s ear, that forever shall remain a secret,” he added.
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