Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela continues to keep the party high command on tenterhooks over his next move. He has announced a public gathering of his supporters and legislators on his 77th birthday on Friday, which he otherwise seldom celebrates.
Akin to a similar event at the Gandhinagar town hall last month attended by scores of his supporters minus legislators, the July 21 event is poised to be a show of strength where MLAs of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party and Janata Dal-United, who both have one member in the state Assembly, have been invited.
The birthday event was scheduled to be held at Mahatma Mandir, the sprawling and plush auditorium complex set up by Narendra Modi as the Chief minister. It is now to be held at the public lawns near the Town Hall in state capital Gandhinagar.
Senior state leader Siddharth Patel and national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil met Vaghela at his residence to placate him as well as to reportedly convey him not to hold public events and embarrass the party.
The maverick Vaghela, who had snapped ties with the BJP in the late nineties to set up his own party that later merged with the Congress, has been asserting before the party high command to hand over reins of the December election battle to him.
Though publicly he has been denying that he wanted to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate, Vaghela has often asserted before the media and his supporters publicly that there has been no planning for the elections and he has objections to the ad hocism going on, taking a dig at state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki.
Vaghela, who is Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, has also stated that: “If the party wishes to concede defeat even before the fight has begun, I would not commit suicide with it.” There has also been speculation that he might join the BJP, though he has repeatedly denied this.