Mount Abu, Nov. 9: “Don’t take it like any other election, it may turn the table” — this was what Sonia Gandhi told party colleagues last night when she met them to discuss the Gujarat polls next month.
The meeting was not on the agenda, but Sonia took the opportunity offered by the conclave to take up the Gujarat issue with Congress chief ministers.
Those present at the meeting included the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Chhattisgarh and the AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat, Kamal Nath.
Referring to an internal survey that predicted a neck-and-neck contest, Sonia said that as the outcome of the Gujarat election would have an impact at the national level, Congress chief ministers of neighbouring states should pitch in.
It seems that the Congress is planning to give the BJP a last-minute jolt, with Kamal Nath revealing that some disgruntled BJP legislators had offered to switch sides.
About 10 sitting MLAs are likely to be denied tickets. The Congress has also decided to enter into seat adjustments with “like-minded parties” and is likely to leave about 10 seats for prospective allies, including the Left parties and the Lok Jan Shakti of Ram Vilas Paswan.
As the demands of the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party have been found to be too high, seat adjustments with them were unlikely, Kamal Nath hinted. The Congress will finalise its candidates by Thursday, he said. At a press conference here, Sonia said the outcome of the Gujarat elections would have an impact on the NDA government at the Centre.
The Congress chief added that she had already directed Kamal Nath and state unit chief Shankersinh Vaghela to go for electoral adjustments with like-minded parties, if needed.
Iterating that the Gujarat elections were the next challenge for the party, she said the Congress would go to the people of the state with the message that progress was possible only in an atmosphere of peace and harmony between communities.
Togadia salvo at Sonia
VHP leader Praveen Togadia today charged Sonia with virtually turning the party into a “protector of militant Islamic forces”.
Reacting to Sonia’s speech at the Congress conclave, Togadia said: “Sonia’s one-sided, anti-Hindu stance would further encourage jihadi forces against which India had lost thousands of its valiant sons and crores of rupees in the past decade.”
Togadia also slammed the “opportunistic alliance” between the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir.
”By keeping silent on the perpetrators of godhra and akshardham carnage and those spreading islamic jehad in the country and blaming the hindutva forces instead for communal unreast, sonia gandhi had virtually turned congress into a protector of militant islamic forces,” he said.