The Congress may agree to form a coalition government in Gujarat, a senior leader tells Sheela Bhatt
Congress leaders in Saurshtra, Gujarat, are confident of success two days before the region goes to polls in the first phase of state assembly elections on Thursday.
Veerji Thumar, a Congress leader from the Leuva Patel community, told rediff.com, "We will get more than 50 per cent seats in Saurshtra and Kutch."
Thumar, a former Member of Parliament from Amreli, expressed his excitement after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's public meeting in the area on Tuesday.
He did not rule out the possibility of the Congress agreeing to form a coalition government with the Gujarat Parivartan Party, the Nationalist Congress Party and independents.
When asked to clarify, he said, "May be it is possible to form such a government. But I can't say what stand (GPP founder and chief) Keshubhai Patel will finally take."
Interestingly, Thumar agreed that the GPP is likely to affect the Congress's fortunes in some seats like Dhari and Babra in Amreli district, where "anti-incumbency" votes may get divided between Congress and the GPP.
Thumer, who has experienced four elections, said, "This time, the Congress is not facing any Hindtuva current. The issues are local and people are fed up of corruption by the Modi government."
He added that in Saurashtra, "The main issue is the injustice done to the Patel community by Modi. So many Patels have gone to jail in (post-Godhra) riots related cases, but Modi has neither helped them nor has he been questioned for it."
Pragjibhai Hirpara, the candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party who is from the Leuva Patel community, told rediff.com, "Keshubhai Patel will never form any government with the Congress Party. I can assure you that the Bhartiya Janata Party will get around 80 seats and they will be forced to make the government with the GPP's help."
As the election campaign ended on Tuesday, candidates of the Congress and the GPP showed an unusual amount of confidence.
"GPP is surprised that we are getting not just the votes of the disgruntled Patels, we will also get votes of those who are waiting for development. There remains no doubt that Saurshtra voters see Modi as being against the causes of farmers."