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When a Congressman created a flutter
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | March 17, 2007 21:17 IST
On March 6, 2007, during the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party, in the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, all the Congress ministers and more than 100 Congress members of Parliament, when Harising Chavda, member of Parliament from Banaskantha, Gujarat, stood up and asked for the attention of Sonia, everybody was stunned including Sonia.
Congressmen can expect and tolerate anything in the world, but not impropriety against any member of the Gandhi-Nehru family.
So, when Chavda stood up in the open forum and said, "Madam, I would like to talk to you. I want to say something," almost all Congressmen thought Chavda may embarrass Sonia.
CPP meetings are usually a routine and dull affair where the president of Congress speaks on current affiars to members of both Houses of the party and in a formal way one of the party secretaries proposes a vote of thanks.
Chavda was not allowed to speak at the meeting, but was told to meet her after it.
In that meeting, Sonia spoke on the results of the Assembly elections and passed the buck by blaming price rise for election debacles.
"When I met Sonia I told her that she has done a great service by bringing in the Right to Information Act and the Employment Guarantee Scheme. But, Congress is hit hard by price rise. I told her that Congress should curb inflation," Chavda told rediff.com.
"Sonia heard me patiently. I also told her that Vaghela is a corrupt minister. And he is not helping our Congress party," Chavda claimed.
"Sonia told me, 'We are cautious of price rise.' And she asked me to have patience. She said, 'In few months, price rise will come under control.'," Chavda added.
Chavda, 77, is in his second term in Parliament. In his home town, he is associated with Savodaya and the cooperative movement, education and many other grassroot institutions.
In the 90s, he had rebelled to join Bharatiya Janata Party under the influence of Shanker Sinh Vaghela, then BJP leader.
Most Congressmen thought by doing something "nasty" he will invite suspension and thought that he was getting ready to rejoin BJP.
Chavda does not have any weightage in New Delhi and is a member of the obscure Committee on Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House.
Party managers breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out that he was upset over price rise affecting Congress' electoral prospects and he had serious complaints against Minister of Textiles Vaghela, former BJP leader turned Congressman.
Gujarat Congress is incorrigibly divided.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is taking his party and government into election mode, but Gujarat state Congress is all set to go into reverse gear.
All factions are claiming that they have the attention of Sonia. Her political adviser Ahmed Patel, State Congress chief Bharat Solanki, Vaghela, Urmilaben Patel, widow of Chimanbhai Patel are leaders of four major groups within the party.
And there is no surprise that as soon as Chavda came out of the meeting a rumour was floated that Chavda met Sonia to complain against Ahmed Patel, her political secretary and Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat. A newspaper columnist printed it, too.
However, Chavda told rediff.com, "Vaghela is hurting the interest of Congress party in Gujarat and I wanted to convey it to Sonia that corrupt people like Vaghela should not be entrusted any responsibility."
Achyut Yagnik, political analyst, rightly says, "Congress is no match for Modi."