In Vaghela’s case, he is already the chairman of the ITDC and enjoys the status of a cabinet minister. It is not known whether he would be prepared to give up his present cushy job to return to a Vidhan Sabha where his arch political rival, chief minister Narendra Modi rules the roost. Vaghela and Modi enjoyed kinship in their days as grassroot workers during the RSS-Jan Sangh days before they fell out after the party came to power in Gujarat in 1995 with Keshubhai Patel becoming the chief minister. Vaghela rebelled later the same year, triggering off a series of events that led him to the Congress via a regional outfit that he founded.
As of now, there are numerous contenders for the post which occupies the rank, pay and perks of a cabinet minister and the party top brass is yet to make up its mind, pre-occupied as it has been with its Jaipur conclave. This has led to a scenario which is showing the Congress in poor light as it has been unable to decide its legislature party leader even a day before the two day session commenced on Tuesday with an address by the governor Dr Kamala Beniwal .
While the party remains leaderless, all important Panchayat elections are just about 10 days away. One thousand four hundred and twenty seven Village Panchayats will go to polls on February 3 and 75 nagar palikas in the state a week later. Additionally, mid term polls are due in Talala Nagarpalika and two seats of the Junagadh municipal corporation as well as by-elections to 15 seats of 11 Nagarpalikas are also lined up alongside. In figurative terms , apart from 1427 posts of sarpanches, a total of 14,270 panchayat seats are up for grabs in these elections with their fate in the hands of a total polling electorate of 34,83,307 voters. Similarly, the fate of the total 644 Nagarpalika seats will be in the hands of 1,73,854 voters while 37,000 voters will decide the fate of the remaining 15 seats.
Besides Vaghela and Radadia, others whose names are in the reckoning are tribal leader Mohansinh Rathwa, Patidar leader Raghavji Patel and Una legislator Punjabhai Vansh. The Congress apart, the Gujarat Parivartan Party of Keshubhai Patel and the NCP have two seats each.
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