Ahead of Rahul’s visit to Gujarat, senior Congress MLA threatens to quit

Jamnagar,   Senior Congress legislator and OBC leader from Gujarat’s Saurashtra region Vikram Madam on Friday threatened to resign if the party failed to address “several issues” worrying him.

His announcement, a few days before Congress President Rahul Gandhi visits Gujarat on July 16 and 17, comes less than a week after another veteran MLA from the same region Kunwarji Bavaliya resigned and joined the BJP to be made a cabinet minister.

Incidentally, Gandhi is scheduled to tour the same Saurashtra region, according to informed sources. BJP President Amit Shah, who is “credited” with engineering problems in the Congress, will also be in the state on July 13 and 14.

Madam, the legislator from Khambhalia and two-time Jamnagar Lok Sabha member, said that there were “several” issues that were bothering him. “I would continue to raise them within party forum and but if I do not get satisfactory answers, I may leave Congress,” he told reporters.

Madam said even if he happened to quit he “would never join” the BJP. Incidentally, Bavaliya, who is a three-day-old cabinet minister, had also made similar claims.

Other than meeting state party leaders, Madam is pinning his hopes on a probable meeting with Gandhi during his visit.

Madam and Bavaliya are not the only ones from the crucial Saurashtra region to rebel. Rajkot strongman and earlier the richest MLA, Indranil Rajyaguru, called it quits late last month.

Rajyaguru, who had won from Rajkot East constituency in 2012, vacated this safe seat to take on Chief Minister Vijay Rupani during the December 2017 assembly elections but lost.

Party sources claimed they were upset with the Congress leadership for trying to bring in a generational shift in the party’s Gujarat unit by ushering in two young men, Amit Chavda as state party President and Paresh Dhanani as leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly.

Madam, like Bavalia, is an OBC strongman. He lost out to Dhanani, who is a Patel, and the party needed to keep the community in good humour, the sources added.

Saurashtra region, which sends maximum 52 legislators to the 182-member Assembly, has been a bastion of the Bharatiya Janata Party for over two decades but the Congress made a huge comeback in the 2017 elections winning as many as 30 seats. It is also in this context that the going of these leaders is bad news for the party with the 2019 elections less than a year away.