Vaghela puffs up as crowds hail him as next CM

Shankersinh Vaghela

Congress may not have officially declared its chief ministerial candidate, but its campaign in-charge in the state, Shankersinh Vaghela, it seems, has already staked his claim to the top post.

In Kapadvanj constituency, sitting Congress MLA Manibhai Patel introduces Vaghela to a small crowd as the next chief minister as the latter arrives after addressing meetings in north Gujarat on the last day of campaigning on Saturday.

"It is a matter of great pride that Bapu (as Vaghela is fondly called), who is going to be the next Chief Minister, is contesting from Kapadvanj. My only appeal to you is to elect Bapu with a lead that would behove a chief minister," says Patel as he introduces Vaghela to a small gathering at Vanjaria village, around 10 km away from Kapadvanj, amid cries of "Dekho dekho kaun aaya, Gujarat ka sher aaya".

Vaghela supports Patel tacitly. "I was not inclined to contest these elections. However, the Congress high command said they needed a senior leader like me and they chose Kapadvanj for me," he tells the crowd. He also says his association with this region dated back to 1977 when he first contested from Kapadvanj Lok Sabha seat and won.

Kapadavanj is a taluka in Kheda district of central Gujarat.

Talking to The Indian Express, Vaghela says, "Politically, I am more into Lok Sabha elections but the (Congress) high command decided I should fight this elections too. Second, BJP is raising question as to who is captain of Congress. If senior leader like me is in the fray, a direct message would go. They (leaders of BJP) would get an answer."

Vaghela says it is anti-democratic to elect a CM candidate before elections. "Check the Constitution and you would not find such a provision anywhere. When they (BJP) were forcing us to declare a captain, I said I was the one and nobody (from Congress) has denied it. Nor has anybody raised any objection," he says.

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