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Gujarat Congress seeks Cabinet berths

Meghdoot Sharon in Ahmedabad | May 15, 2004 14:11 IST

After putting in its best performance since 1989 in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the state unit of the Congress is now looking for greater representation at the national level. They are hoping for ministerial berths in the new government that will most likely be formed by the party at the Centre.

Foremost among the MPs from Gujarat who could be awarded ministerial berths is Shankersinh Vaghela, who retained the Kapadvanj seat in central Gujarat by a margin of 80,000 votes.

Others who might be accommodated in the Union ministry include senior Congress leader and Sabarkantha MP Madhusudan Mistry, Kheda MP Dinsha Patel -- she has not lost the seat in the past six elections -- and Tushar Chaudhary, son of former Gujarat chief Amarsinh Chaudhary.

Tushar, who fought his first parliamentary election from Mandvi, handed a crushing defeat to Mansinh Patel of the BJP; he won by a margin of over 1.73 lakh votes.

"Now that Sonia Gandhi will become the prime minister, I really do not care if I get a ministerial berth or not. However, there ought to be greater representation from the states that performed well in the elections," said former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, who is in Delhi to meet the party's leaders.

Vaghela, who was asked to quit as the state Congress unit chief ahead of the elections, was, however, asked to co-ordinate the parliamentary elections where the Congress more than doubled its tally from five to 12.

Senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, who has been elected from the tribal-dominated Sabarkantha seat of north Gujarat, said there ideally ought to be greater representation from Gujarat.

"Obviously, no one would reject an offer for a ministerial post. Given the present circumstances, however, there are several factors the Congress central leadership will have to consider while allotting ministerial berths," said Mistry, who is in Delhi to meet the party's central leadership.

Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president B K Gadhvi said party president and CLP leader Sonia Gandhi will take the decision on the allocation of ministerial berths.

Gadhvi is likely to go to Delhi on Monday.

He said the process of government formation is still on and the issue of ministerial posts for MPs from Gujarat will be discussed at an appropriate time.

Five BJP MPs from Gujarat -- L K Advani from Gandhinagar, Kashiram Rana from Surat, Harin Pathak from Ahmedabad, Vallabh Kathiria from Rajkot and Bhavnaben Chikhaliya from Junagadh -- were Union ministers in the dissolved Parliament.

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