Ahmedabad: Questioning her ability to govern the state, newly appointed Gujarat Congress President Baratsinh Solanki has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shift Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to Delhi after accusing her of misgovernance. Solanki, who was recently appointed as head of State Congress has been entrusted with the herculean task of reviving the party in Gujarat, which is in Opposition for the last 25 years. The party has been battered at the hands of theBJP in every election ranging from village panchyat to Lok Sabha. In 2014, it touched a new low when it scored a zero out of 26 Lok Sabha seats.
Solanki’s first test will be large scale local bodies election coming up in the month of October where battle lines are drawn between the two parties. Congress has a chance to cash in on the absence of former chief minister Narendra Modi on the election turf, who moved to Delhi after being elected as the PM. “The state was proud to have a first woman chief minister. But she is making mistake after mistake in governance. I request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shift her to Delhi and put some competent person in her place as chief minister of Gujarat,” Solanki told PTI. “Under her rule, crime against women has increased.. women have to go long distance to fetch water, tankers have become common as state government cannot provide water through pipelines. The state government has failed on all fronts,” Solanki said replying to a question on will the task of Congress be easier in the absence of Modi, when BJP will have to fight local body elections under Anandiben Patel.
As many as six municipal corporations including Ahmedabad, 253 municipalities, 208 taluka panchayat and 26 district panchayat are expected to go to polls, scheduled to be held in October 2015. Solanki, a former Union Minister of State in UPA 2 government, said they are fully prepared to take on BJP in the local body polls. “After we lost all 26 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the morale of party workers was down,” Solanki conceded. “After I took over (as President of Gujarat Congress), we have worked hard to boost the confidence of our party workers and results are showing as the cadres feel that this is the right time to take on BJP as they have ruled the state for almost 25 years here now,” he said.
We have focused on rebuilding the organisation up to the booth level. I have revamped the old state Congress body and tried to bring in fresh faces. We have also fixed the accountability of party leaders,” he said. Congress is planning to bring back the middle class voters to its fold to revive the party in the state after they deserted it in Gujarat for last two decades, resulting in diminishing presence of party in urban centres. “Our focus in this election is the middle class and urban voters. We are raising issues that concerns the middle class. Middle class and urban voters who have not been voting for the Congress are also feeling now that they are cheated. They are searching for an option to BJP in Gujarat and Congress can provide that,” Solanki said.
Solanki also said that he would not pursue KHAM theory and take all sections of society together for revival of Congress. Former Congress chief minister, and father of Bharatsinh Solanki, Madhavsinh in the 1980s and propounded the KHAM theory. KHAM stands for Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi (tribal) and Muslims. Madhavsinh worked on this combination and was of the opinion that if these four communities vote for the Congress then it will never lose power in Gujarat. However, the theory had alienated numerically powerful Patel community of Gujarat from the Congress. “People were talking that as I have been made president of the party, I will work as per KHAM theory. But the appointments that I have made in the new party state executive body includes four Patels, and it will dispel the myth that I will follow KHAM theory,” Solanki said. Gujarat Congress has also started a membership drive to recruit new workers in the party and office bearers, and claim that it is getting a good response.