Dismissing a ‘Modi wave’ in Gujarat, Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela said his party’s performance will render meaningless all the hype created around the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate.
“There is no Modi wave. The people have realised that they have been cheated. The Congress is going to better its tally in 2014 from its performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. It going to bag more seats that the BJP,” Mr. Vaghela, former Gujarat chief minister and Congress candidate from Sabarkantha told The Hindu on the phone.
Mr. Vaghela, a five-time MP, formerly with the BJP, filed his nomination papers on Monday.
The BJP has claimed to sweep all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. In 2009 polls, the Congress had won 11 parliamentary seats, but later its tally dropped to nine. In the recent months seven of its MLAs and lower rung leaders have switched to the saffron party putting the grand old party in a weak spot against an aggressive BJP.
Asked about the Congress’ precarious position in the State, Mr. Vaghela said, “Even though the leaders leave, the people don’t. The Congress has put up better candidates. We are expected to make gains in Saurashtra, north and south Gujarat. There are two assembly bye-elections in Kachch, and we are set to benefit from that. The only tough contest will be in Porbandar seat, which has gone to the Nationalist Congress Party and the Jamnagar seat, which will see a contest between family members Poonam Maadam of the BJP and Congress’ sitting MP and her uncle Vikram Maadam. But, the overall Congress position on the ground is very good,” he said.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Vaghela contested the Panchmahal seat, but lost to the BJP’s Prabhatsinh Pratapsinh Chauhan. In the 2012 State Assembly polls, he contested and won the Kapadwanj seat.