Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela’s son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, a two-time Congress lawmaker, today joined the BJP.
Mahendrasinh Vaghela joining the BJP has come as a second blow to the opposition party in less than two weeks and ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On July 3, senior leader Kunwarji Bavaliya had quit the Congress and joined the ruling party in the state. He was immediately made a Cabinet minister.
Soon after joining the BJP, Mahendrasinh attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying that given his style of working, a revival of the country’s oldest party does not look possible in the near future.
Mr Vaghela was elected to the Gujarat Assembly on a Congress ticket for two consecutive terms from Bayad in North Gujarat — 2007 to 2012 and 2012 to 2017.
“Today, two-time MLA and son of former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela (Mahendrasinh Vaghela) has joined the BJP,” state BJP president Jitu Vaghani announced in Gandhinagar.
Mr Vaghela had voted against Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls held in August 2017.
He had quit the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections held in December last year.
However, he did not contest the elections or join any party then.
Asked why he has joined the BJP now, Mr Vaghela said, “The style of working of Gandhi will not revive that party in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country in the near future.”
He also praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
The development comes at a time when Mr Shah is on a visit to Gujarat, his home state.
The BJP chief arrived in Gandhinagar late last night and took part in “mangla aarti” (auspicious morning prayers) at the Lord Jagganath Temple today.
Asked if Shankarsinh Vaghela will also join the BJP, his son evaded a direct reply and maintained his father will take a call himself regarding his next move.
Before the 2017 Assembly polls, Shankarsinh Vaghela , then a legislator, had led a rebellion in the Congress, which resulted in 13 lawmakers quitting the party.
Some of them had later joined the BJP and fought the elections, which saw the BJP retaining power in Gujarat, though with a reduced margin.