Cong MLAs, leaders meet tomorrow; may pick new state chief, CLP leader

MLA

The state Congress, which suffered a defeat in the just-concluded Assembly elections in which both its state unit chief and legislative party leaders lost, has convened two separate meetings of its elected members and Pradesh Committee office-bearers Wednesday.

The meetings, to be held in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar the same day when Narendra Modi is to be sworn in as chief minister, are likely to select the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and the GPCC president.

Newly elected MLA Vitthal Radadiya, who last hit the headline for brandishing a gun at a toll booth in Vadodara, has staked a claim to the position of CLP leader after Shaktisinh Gohil lost to BJP's Purshottam Solanki in Bhavnagar (rural) and stepped down from post.

State Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia also resigned from the post after losing his constituency Porbandar to Babu Bokhiriya of the BJP.

The elections have left virtually the entire front row leadership of the Congress vacant. While senior Congress leader and former state party chief Sidhharth Patel lost from Dabhoi constituency, senior leader Narhari Amin left the party and joined the BJP after he was denied a ticket.

Several names are doing the rounds for the two top posts with 'Patidar' stalwart Radadiya, the sitting MP from Porbandar who had contested from Dhoraji and won by a thin margin, eyeing the post of CLP leader who leads the party in the House.

Radadiya admitted he has staked a claim to the post. "I have sent the proposal to the party. I've won Assembly elections on six occasions and parliamentary elections once, so I deserve the post," he said, adding that he was ready to resign as MP from Porbandar.

However, vacating the Lok Sabha seat will also be a gamble for the party which cannot afford to lose an MP in Parliament, even as Radadiya said he was confident of the party winning the parliamentary seat in by-poll.

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