Ahmedabad: Spelling trouble for the Congress party in Gujarat, leader of the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) and MLA from Jhagadia constituency, Chhotu Vasava, has announced that his party will fight seven Lok Sabha seats in the state, including Bharuch, which is the home pitch of Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel.
Mr Vasava’s announcement is being seen as a move to build pressure on the Congress when the party is in the process of selecting candidates.
Seven-term MLA and popular ‘dabang’ leader, Mr Vasava formed the BTP just a month ahead of the assembly elections in the state in 2017 and contested two seats in alliance with Congress.
The BTP had also won two assembly seats in Rajasthan. He was with Janata Dal (U) till 2017, but parted ways after Nitish Kumar formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Mr Vasava’s son Mahesh Vasava is also an MLA from Dediapada in Bharuch district. Both father and son are believed to have a strong hold over tribal votes in south Gujarat, especially in the Bharuch Lok Sabha constituency.
Congress party leaders admit that their party will have to form an alliance with the BTP if it wants to win Bharuch. Once a bastion of Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel, who won from here in 1977, 1980 and 1984, this constituency has been with the BJP since 1998.
In 2014, the BJP’s Mansukha Vasava won with a lead of 1.53 lakh votes. But in the 2017 assembly election, the Congress was just behind withby 1,964 votes. Chhotu Vasava led with more than 30,000 votes in this assembly segment. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, he fought on a JD(U) ticket from here and secured 63,660 votes in a triangular battle.
In this scenario, if the Congress and the BTP form an alliance, they can give a tough fight to the BJP....