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How Cong plans to take out Modi in Gujarat
Saubhadra Chatterji in New Delhi | November 16, 2007 12:18 IST
The Congress in Gujarat will not only give tickets for the upcoming assembly polls to Bharatiya Janata Party rebels crossing over to the party, but will give away seats to accommodate its United Progressive Alliance allies as well.
This would mean Congress is subtracting at least 18 seats from its own kitty. That for many of these UPA allies it will be the first time they would contest in Gujarat's mainly bipolar polity, shows how the Congress has succumbed to the pressure of its allies.
Political circles dub this as a desperate attempt by the Congress to oust Narendra Modi, the powerful BJP chief minister for the last six years. This is in stark contrast to the policy which the party followed in the recent Uttar Pradesh elections.
Rahul Gandhi [Images], spearheading the campaign in UP, decided against forming any alliance with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party. The result was a further deduction of three seats from its earlier tally.
This time, it is clear that the party is not adopting the 'Rahul line' but tying up with parties like Sharad Pawar's [Images] Nationalist Congress Party and Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal. Even the CPI-M and Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party are set to get one seat each.
But, most significantly, the Congress will give tickets to all eight rebel BJP legislators, barring the controversial minister Gordhan Zadaphia. According to party sources, "the eight rebel legislators who were sitting members during the last regime will be given tickets because their chances of winning are good."
For Zadaphia, the party has a different plan. Since he was the Minister of State in the state home department during the Gujarat riots, he is considered to be 'tainted'. The Congress will not give him ticket directly but he will have a big say in choosing the Congress candidate from his constituency.
Last time, the Congress fought in 180 out of the 182 seats of the state assembly. After the election results were out, it was seen that there were at least 18 seats where the cumulative votes of the Congress and the NCP were more than the BJP's votes.
The Congress has decided to give at least five seats out of those 18 constituencies to the NCP this time. NCP has a significant base among the Patel vote bank and the Congress plans to enrich its share from the tie-up. It has also kept in mind the fact that many Patel leaders have rebelled against Modi this time.
Like Paswan or CPI-M, Lalu's party will get one seat in the state. According to a Congress leader, "these are token adjustments to show that the UPA's unity is also intact in the states as is at the Centre."