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Get your act together, Rahul Gandhi warns Gujarat leaders as infighting boils over

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Heated meeting sees furious Rahul Gandhi issue ultimatum, state unit given 45 days to sort out dissent.

New Delhi: The simmering discontent in the Gujarat Congress has boiled over, forcing party president Rahul Gandhi to issue an ultimatum to the state leadership to resolve the issue within 45 days.

The infighting came to the fore during a meeting between Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Congress leaders on 26 September, ThePrint has learnt. Gandhi, sources said, has warned the state unit that he won’t hesitate in effecting an organisational reshuffle if things don’t improve.

The Gujarat Congress has been beset by dissent since the assembly elections nine months ago, when the party ran the BJP close, winning in 77 of the 182 seats.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi wants House panel probe into Rafale deal, but history shows it’s pointless

In the aftermath of the 2017 elections, Gandhi had appointed Paresh Dhanani, a relatively young and new face, as the leader of opposition in the Gujarat assembly. He had also replaced party state president Bharatsinh Solanki with the relatively inexperienced Amit Chavda.

Sources told ThePrint that the senior leaders of the state are unhappy over the functioning of these two young leaders. With the new team in place, senior Congress leaders such as Solanki, Arjun Modhwadia and Siddarth Patel have almost gone silent and have no role in the party.

In recent times, Gandhi has made Shaktisinh Gohil, a senior Gujarat leader, the in-charge of the Bihar Congress. Prominent OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who joined the party and became an MLA, has also been appointed a secretary in-charge of Bihar.

There have also been defections from the Congress since the polls.

In July, the Congress MLA from Jasdan, Kuwarji Bavalia, an important Koli community leader, quit the party and joined the BJP.

A few days after Bavalia, the party MLA from Khambalia and noted OBC leader, Vikram Madam, also threatened to quit the Congress, accusing the party leadership of ignoring his workers.

Senior Congress leader Indranil Rajyaguru too has quit the party after unsuccessfully contesting the assembly elections against chief minister Vijay Rupani.

A heated meeting

The 26 September meeting, sources said, began on a wrong note with all the state leaders accusing each other of damaging the party and sidelining others. The fight took an ugly turn when Thakor threatened to walk out with some MLAs, ThePrint has learnt.

All this happened before Gandhi and party in-charge of the state, Rajiv Satav, sources said. They added that a furious Gandhi then asked everyone to resolve their issues within 45 days, or he would form a new team.

A senior Gujarat Congress leader, however, downplayed the meeting.

“There is nothing serious,” the leader, who did not want to be named, told ThePrint. “These are young leaders who are having an ego clash and things will be sorted out soon.”

ThePrint tried to reach Satav over the phone but he remained unavailable.

Sources told ThePrint that the party has decided to have an organisation reshuffle in the state to accommodate every leader and their supporters as a compromise.

Also read: Mr Mohan Bhagwat, who are you to organise the nation, Rahul Gandhi asks RSS chief

The Congress is likely to appoint 20 vice presidents, 30 general secretaries, 120 secretaries and 12 spokespersons in the state in the coming few days, sourcess said. Gandhi is also likely to visit Gujarat in October.

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