Surat, July 5 (IANS) The opposition Congress was in for a shock here on Wednesday when party’s national General Secretary Ashok Gehlot and state unit President Bharatsinh Solanki were greeted with chants hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
They had gone there to express solidarity with textile traders, who are on strike to protest the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Gehlot, who is in charge of the Congress affairs in Gujarat and began a tour of south Gujarat to interact with partymen and leaders at the grassroots level, accompanied by Solanki went to meet textile traders on a sit-in strike and extend support.
But, to their surprise, their vehicles were gheraoed and chants of “Modi…Modi…” welcomed them, forcing them to leave the place in a hurry.
Solanki tried to put up a brave face and later told reporters: “The media may see it in a negative way but no traders opposed the Congress. The traders were only raising slogans opposing GST.”
Local Congress leaders in the city alleged that it was the handiwork of some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members, who mingled with the crowd and raised the slogans.
Slogans were also raised against Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and local Lok Sabha member C.R. Patil at the same venue, they pointed out.
Meanwhile, the Congres faced another piquant situation when the posters welcoming Solanki in Surat did not feature Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Shankersinh Vaghela, who has been sulking for sometime over not being made in-charge of the Congress’ poll campaign for the December elections.
Besides, the rift between Solanki and Vaghela is an open secret.
But Solanki said, “We are together and we will remain together. We will find out who failed to put Shankersinhji’s picture on the poster and initiate disciplinary action.”
About the party’s elections plans, he said Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi would be in the state next month to campaign for the party.
“We have invited him to address rallies in Bhuj in Kutch, Rajkot in Saurashtra and Vadodara in central Gujarat,” the state Congress chief said.
Gandhi had addressed a rally in tribal-dominated Dediapada in April and earlier in Patel-dominated Mehsana in December last.