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Can fill vacuum in Gujarat Cong, Vaghela tells News18

Gujarat Game Plan

While they focus on the upcoming elections in Gujarat, opposition parties in the state are also keeping an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Shankersinh Vaghela, former prime minister of Gujarat, has been busy meeting Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, both ostensible candidates to become the prime minister of a united opposition in the parliamentary polls.

While Vaghela waits for Congress to “seek its leadership” in a state that is “witnessing a political vacuum” and setting the October 5 deadline for the party to make a decision, he has met KCR and Kumar to discuss the “differences” amid the regional parties that have kept the BJP out of power in their respective states.

Sitting in his palatial home after arriving from Delhi where he met Nitish Kumar, Vaghela dives into trouble that hinders the process of having all non-BJP parties on one platform.

He told News18.com: “KCR wants non-BJP and non-congress leaders. Nitish says non-BJP allies will do it. How can you not have Congress in the alliance? I’ll tell him (KCR) not to protest it too much. There are certain compulsions in politics. If there is PM candidate from UP, Bihar, acceptability is more. Extremism is not good. My goal to meet both is to unite the anti-BJP forces.”

‘Hot becomes a non-entity’

Vaghela also says Rajasthan Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot will be a non-entity after Congress presidential polls.

“I was in Delhi yesterday (Tuesday). No one would have thought that Gehlot could take an anti-Gandhi stance. He has family ties to the Gandhis. Gehlot wants CP Joshi to become CM. Rahul Gandhi has promised (Sachin) Pilot. Gehlot had made it a condition that he remain CM until the elections in Gujarat and become national president. Both his positions are spoiled. Ms ka trust uth gaya (he has lost the trust of Sonia Gandhi),” said Vaghela who launched the Praja Shakti Democratic Party ahead of Gujarat’s election polls to be held this year.

Even if Gehlot remains in charge of his state, he will be a non-entity, Vaghela insisted.

The former CM of Gujarat believes it is a myth that there will be no agreement on a prime ministerial candidate in the opposition as there is precedent.

Alliance with congress possible

Vaghela says what Congress is missing in Gujarat is a leadership vacuum he can fill.

“2024 ka rasta Gandhinagar se jata hai; yahan BJP down hui to 2024 tak intezaar nahi karna padega (The road to 2024 goes through Gandhinagar; if BJP Gujarat loses, we don’t have to wait until 2024),” he said.

However, there is no clear roadmap, plan or framework with the oppsoition to wrest Gujarat from the BJP, observers say. This is when the ruling party has started on the ground and done its homework, insiders say, to ensure it gets a large majority in this election.

Asked why he thinks the opposition has a chance against the BJP in Gujarat, Vaghela said: “Saamne koi hai nahi tabhi toh BJP aati hai (There is no alternative, that’s why the BJP comes to power). When we go into battle, people get a credible opposition.” His son, if the talks bear fruit, will compete for a convention symbol.

on AAP

“AAP is no match. I don’t take (Arvind) Kejriwal seriously. There is no mention of AAP winning seats. They are artificial and have no basis among the people,” said Vaghela, claiming that Kejriwal is an RSS guy.

He said the Aam Aadmi party is eating up the congressional vote share and costing seats in favor of the BJP.

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