Not in touch with Congress MLAs: Vaghela

Shankersinh Vaghela
Shankersinh Vaghela, File Photo IANS

New Delhi, Aug 7: Former Union Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela said on Monday that he was not in touch with Congress MLAs ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat on Tuesday.

He also said his relations with Congress leader Ahmed Patel were “very cordial”.

Vaghela, who resigned from the Congress in July, told NDTV in an interview that there was no question of getting any offer from the BJP.

Asked if he was in touch with Congress MLAs, who returned to Gujarat on Monday after being in Karnataka for almost 10 days to prevent “poaching” by the BJP, Vaghela said: “On moral grounds, I should not be in touch. I am not.”

Asked about his vote, Vaghela said voting was the “property of a MLA”. I don’t want to expose it.”

Vaghela said Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is in the fray for the third Rajya Sabha seat from the state, had telephoned him on Monday and will again talk to him on Tuesday.

Vaghela, who was the Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly before he resigned, said he had known Patel for about four decades and their relationship was beyond political affiliations.
“Even today, our relations are very cordial,” he said.

Asked about speculation that he had been offered the post of Governor by the BJP, Vaghela said there were no talks between him and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“There is no question of any offer,” he said and added that BJP leaders were not in touch with him.

He said Balwantsinh Rajput, who had been put up by the BJP for the third Rajya Sabha seat in the state, was a friend of Ahmed Patel before he became his relative.

Rajput was the Congress Chief Whip in the assembly and was named BJP candidate soon after resigning from the party in July.

Vaghela said he had been asked what he will do for the victory of his relative but it was the BJP’s outlook. “Where I find it necessary, I will speak,” he said.

Forty four Congress MLAs from Gujarat, who were flown to Bengaluru on July 29, returned to Gujarat on Monday. They were taken to Karnataka after six party MLAs resigned from the party in July with some of them joining the BJP.

Ahmed Patel faces a tough contest in the Rajya Sabha election on Tuesday. BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani are also in the fray for the three seats from the state.


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