After seven Gujarat Congress MLAs reportedly cross-voted in the Presidential election, senior party leaders have started fearing poaching of party candidates in the run-up to the Assembly elections scheduled later this year.
Few leaders strongly believe that the only solution is that the party nominates genuine and original Congressmen with a clean slate sans any criminal cases.
A senior Congress leader wishing anonymity told IANS, “The way seven Congress members cross-voted, they can go to any extent. They (the BJP) can poach Congress candidates either before or after the filing of nomination for the Assembly polls, which will not only embarrass the party, but also throttle its chances of returning to power in Gujarat.”
The foundation of such fear, the politician believes, is that the ruling party has set a target to win at least 152 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly.
The BJP is focusing on seats which the Congress has won multiple times, for which poaching might become necessary.
In the recent past, the BJP has roped in many Congress workers and leaders into its fold, but in the last 60 years, not a single Congress candidate has switched sides, said party leader Paresh Dhanani, the former Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly.
“I have suggested to the senior leaders of the party to field die-hard Congressmen as party candidates, those who have risen from the party cadre and have stayed with the Congress even during times of crisis. If such candidates are fielded, the BJP will never be successful in poaching,” Dhanani said.
The Congress will also have to ensure that the candidates have no criminal history, pointed out Jivanbhai Kumbharvadiya, President of the Jamnagar district Congress committee.
Kumbharvadiya also feels that all those who switched sides had some weaknesses, which were exploited by the ruling party.
However, according to Shankarbhai Amaliyar, head of the BJP’s district committee in Dahod, importing opposition party workers or leaders has had a negative impact on BJP’s cadre, because the party workers are committed to BJP’s ideology and are not in a rat race to secure electoral tickets.
Amaliyar said that the party workers, including aspiring candidates, are aware that when senior leaders take some decisions, they are in the larger interest of the party.