After days of suspense, maverick Gujarat politician Shankersinh Vaghela, recently sacked by the Congress for engineering a revolt ahead of the August Rajya Sabha polls, on Tuesday announced his support to a third front - Jan Vikalp - in the state.
The front, believed to be Vaghela's brainchild, will support candidates from an assortment of non-BJP and non-Congress political parties as well as independents who register with it for the upcoming assembly elections, the former Chief Minister said. Addressing a crowded press conference, Vaghela said, "It is a myth to say that an alternative political force can't work in Gujarat. Jan Vikalp is a front and not a political party."
The formation of Jan Vikalp was announced by Parthesh Patel, a former social media adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now to Vaghela. It has not been registered as a political party. "I am neither contesting the elections nor am going to decide the candidates. The selection will be made on the basis of primaries and the candidates will be decided by the people," he said.
"Anyone from the Aam Aadmi Party, NCP (Nationalist Congress Party), JD-U (Janata Dal-United) or independent candidates, who believes in our ideology, is welcome and Jan Vikalp will support them," he added.
Vaghela stated that people were angry with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. "I had offered the Congress that I could get not less than 90 seats if I am given a free hand, but well."
He said the people wanted an alternative but they did not see the Congress as one, "they want change". The people were fed up with the BJP and the Congress and were desperate for an alternative, he added.
Vaghela, who was leader of the opposition, announced his resignation from the Congress on his 77th birthday on July 21, which was soon followed by the resignation of six legislators who joined the BJP ahead of the August 7 Rajya Sabha election.
Later, during the election to the upper house where Congress bigwig Ahmed Patel was the official candidate, eight others, including Vaghela, cross-voted for BJP candidates. Patel won the election by one vote, with the lone Janata Dal-United MLA, Chhotubhai Vasava, also backing him.