Gandhinagar: Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh, a two-time Congress legislator, joined the ruling BJP on Saturday.
Mahendrasinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress last year, however, evaded a direct reply when asked if the senior Vaghela would also join the BJP, saying his father will take a call on his next move himself. Shankarsinh Vaghela told reporters his son was under pressure to join the BJP and he had advised him to seek the opinion of his supporters before making any decision.
The former Gujarat chief minister said he had told his son he should not shy away from quitting the BJP if his supporters so desired.
"Mahendrasinh is a mature politician and has every right to take a decision. A few days ago, he told me about joining the BJP. I told him not to take the decision in haste. I told him he should consult his supporters when taking an important political decision like this," he said today.
"Through you (the media), I give him a one-week time to consult supporters from across Gujarat. If they are fine, stay in the party or else resign from the party," he said. The senior Vaghela said he would snap political ties with his son if he failed to seek his supporters' opinion.
Before the 2017 assembly polls, Shankarsinh Vaghela, then a legislator, led a rebellion in the Congress, which resulted in 13 MLAs quitting the party.
Some of them later joined the BJP and fought elections, which saw the saffron party retaining power in Gujarat but with a reduced margin.
Mahendrasinh Vaghela has joined the BJP within weeks of senior OBC leader Kunwarji Bavaliya quitting the Congress to join the ruling party in the state.
Bavaliya was made a Cabinet minister on July 3, the day he quit the Congress and joined the BJP.
Soon after joining the BJP, Mahendrasinh Vaghela attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying the revival of the country's oldest party does not appear possible in the near future given Gandhi's style of working.
Mahendrasinh Vaghela was elected to the Gujarat Assembly on a Congress ticket for two consecutive terms from Bayad in north Gujarat - 2007-2012 and 2012-2017. "Today, two-time MLA and son of former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela has joined the BJP," state BJP president Jitu Vaghani announced here.
Mahendrasinh Vaghela had voted against Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls held in August 2017. He had quit the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in December last year.
However, he did not contest the elections or join any party then. Asked why he joined the BJP now, Mahendrasinh Vaghela said: "The style of working of Gandhi will not revive that party in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country in the near future."
He praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The development comes at a time when Shah is on a visit to Gujarat, his home state. The BJP chief arrived here late last night and participated in "mangla aarti" at Lord Jagannath temple today.
When asked if he plans to join the BJP, Shankarsinh Vaghela said he had hardly met anyone after quitting the Congress.