The Congress said it has not expelled or initiated any disciplinary action against Gujarat leader Shankersinh Vaghela who today quit the party. Keeping the door open for the rebel leader to return, it said that he had been given many important responsibilities but made it clear that the party is bigger than ‘ambition of one person’.
"Neither has the Congress taken any disciplinary action against him nor has he been expelled from the party. Both these facts are entirely incorrect," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
He said the party respected Vaghela as it had entrusted him with important responsibilities and positions from time to time and hoped he would continue to work for the Congress despite quitting from his posts.
"Vaghela wanted that present PCC president should be replaced and he be appointed in his place. This is a decision of the party and its leadership and no one individual can decide it. For the party is bigger than individuals. Each one of us needs to understand that interests of the party and its ideals are bigger then ambition of one person. We sincerely hope that he'll continue to work for the party despite his decision to quit party posts," the Congress leader said.
The Congress' reaction came after Vaghela claimed that he was expelled from the party "24 hours back" but made it clear that he had no plans to join the BJP or any other political party.
Surjewala said the Congress was not representative of individuals but ideology and principles. Party chief Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and crores of Congressmen and women are not fighting for power alone but for social justice, progress and a just, humane society against autocracy of the few, he said.
"We respect Shankarsinh Vaghela. The Congress has always given him respect and important positions of responsibility," he said, adding that the Gujarat Congress leader was appointed as the PCC president, Union cabinet minister, chairman of ITDC with Cabinet minister status and is presently the Leader of Opposition.
In a jolt to the Congress in poll-bound Gujarat, its sulking leader quit the party, but made it clear that he had no plans to join the BJP or any other political party. The stalwart of Gujarat politics announced his plan to break ranks with the Congress, which he had joined two decades back after quitting the BJP, at a rally of his supporters held here to mark his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar.
He also announced that he would immediately resign as the leader of opposition in the Gujarat Assembly and give up his membership of the House after the Rajya Sabha polls in the state scheduled for August 8. Keeping his cards close to his chest, the veteran leader refrained from spelling out his future plans.
The former chief minister has been at loggerheads with the state Congress leadership, which refused to accede to his demand that he be projected as the chief ministerial face of the party in the Gujarat Assembly polls due later this year.