Ahmedabad, Dec 30 (IANS) The Gujarat Congress, for the first times in two decades, on Friday said it is open to projecting a chief ministerial candidate ahead of the state assembly elections scheduled for December 2017.
State Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki said: “Although it (the leadership issue) will be decided by the high command post state polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, we cannot rule it out.”
When pressed further, he told reporters here: “Let’s wait and see.”
The party, which has been in opposition since 1995, has always desisted from naming a chief ministerial candidate. All India Congress Committee General Secretary and In-charge of Gujarat Affairs Gurudas Kamat said the party is prepared to take on the BJP.
“We are ready for the elections whenever it is held, be it February, March or April,” he said when asked about speculations that the ruling BJP might go for an early election in the state.
Kamat said that as part of the exercise, the party would finalise the list of candidates by the middle of next month.
“Whether to announce that after declaration of the poll schedule by the election commission or before that, in a staggered manner or in one go will be decided by the high command,” he added.
Solanki, meanwhile, claimed that the Congress is well-prepared to take on the BJP on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf.
“Modi’s charisma has been diminishing after he became the Prime Minister of the country. His failure to control price rise, flip-flop on Pakistan, alliance with Mehbooba Mufti and his decision of demonetisation has eroded his image,” he said.
Describing Chief Minister Vijay Rupani a “rubber stamp of Amit Shah”, Solanki said the BJP’s move to put Rupani in place of Anandiben Patel has failed to help the ruling party in the state.
“Replacing a Patel and state’s first woman Chief Minister has not helped improve administration. In fact it has gone from bad to worse.”
Solanki claimed that it would be tough climb for the BJP in the wake of Patel quota agitation by Dalits following the Una public flogging of four Dalit youths.
“The difference between vote percentage of the BJP and the Congress in the state has never been more than 10 per cent. We know that we need to bridge this divide and so began our preparations pretty early,” Solanki said.
He alleged that the BJP, which has been in power for over 20 years in the state, has become arrogant, selfish and corrupt. “It has forgotten to behave in a courteous manner with citizens,” he said.