Mr Patel was recently on a four-day visit to Gujarat and mainly stayed in his hometown Bharuch, where the leader of opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela and party’s state unit chief Bharatsinh Solanki, who are currently in the race to become Congress’ Chief Minister candidate for the state assembly elections, met him separately.
Several legislators, including Paresh Dhanani, also met Mr Patel to present their side.
Ahead of Mr Patel’s visit, a meeting was held on April 17 at Mr Vaghela’s residence in Gandhinagar, which was attended by 36 MLAs (out of the total 54 MLAs in the state assembly). Gujarat Congress in-charge Gurudas Kamat was also present there.
During that meeting, the legislators demanded that Mr Vaghela should be made the Chief Minister candidate. They said in case the party decides not to declare a Chief Minister face in the state, Vaghela should be given a “free hand” for the elections and he should be made the poll committee in-charge.
Ahmed Patel visited Gujarat a day after the MLAs’ meeting at Mr Vaghela’s place. According to party sources, some of the legislators, who chose not to attend the previous meeting, met Mr Patel under the leadership of Amreli legislator Paresh Dhanani and opposed making Mr Vaghela as the party’s Chief Minister face or the election committee in-charge of the state.
“While Solanki met Patel in Bharuch on Thursday and gave a detailed representation from his side, Vaghela met him yesterday and discussed about the political situation related to the upcoming elections,” sources added.
Mr Patel told them that a final decision on whether to declare a Chief Minister candidate in Gujarat or not rests with the party high command. Mr Patel left Gujarat yesterday.
State party spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “Patel is a senior leader of Congress and it is natural for the state leaders to visit him if he is in Gujarat. There is nothing unusual in it,” he said.
According to Mr Doshi, the discussion between party’s state unit president and Patel included a range of issues like political situation in the state and upcoming visit of national vice-president Rahul Gandhi on May 1.
Meanwhile, Gurudas Kamat had yesterday tweeted, “Met Rahulji (Gandhi) and had a detailed discussion with him over his upcoming rally in Gujarat on May 1 to address a tribal rally.”
Mr Doshi said that the Congress vice president will address a rally at Dediyapada in Bharuch district on May 1.