May cost us, but needed to do what we did: Cong

In the setback from the defection of Narhari Amin, senior Congress leaders still see a big positive, citing the events leading to it as a signal of change in the party's approach to ticket distribution. The Congress had decided not to give tickets to those who had lost their last two elections and Amin fell in that category. While the party usually always has certain criteria for selection of candidates, it was often flexible when it came to influential leaders.

"While Amin's defection from the Congress might cost us a few votes, it is a good decision. The Congress needs some kind of discipline," a senior Congress functionary told The Indian Express.

Amin belongs to the Leuva Patel community, a BJP vote-bank. Keshubhai Patel's GPP is expected to make a dent in this BJP bank, especially in Saurashtra region. Leaders such as Amin, therefore, could have helped the Congress tap the perceived discontent in the community.

When the Congress learnt about Amin's negotiations with the BJP, Congress general secretary B K Hari Prasad, who enjoys good relations with Gujarat leaders, is said to have made efforts to persuade him against moving out. Union minister Rajiv Shukla was sent to Ahmedabad to dissuade Amin. There was reportedly an offer of a Rajya Sabha berth, too, though Congress leaders deny this.

Congress sources, while defending their decision, said that the party "valued" Amin, who had followed Chimanbhai Patel into the party in early 1990s when the latter merged his party into the Congress. AICC secretary Ashok Tanwar said Amin's defection was unfortunate but the Congress stands for "empowerment" of the people and it would demolish "Modi's myth of development".

"People of Gujarat had rejected him (Amin) four times, the last two consecutively. He lost one election (in 2002) by over 58,000 votes. The party still accommodated him in important posts," Mohan Prakash, the AICC's in-charge of party affairs in Gujarat, told The Indian Express.

... contd.

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