- 56 Congress workers asked to stay away from birthday celebration: sources
- 11 Congress leaders had voted for Ram Nath Kovind in Presidential poll
- Mr Vaghela crossed over from BJP and joined Congress two decades ago
"I have resigned from the Congress and all party posts,' said Mr Vaghela, who had earlier in his address said that the party has "thrown me out 24 hours ago," which the Congress has denied. Mr Vaghela said he is "not joining any party," quashing speculation that he could head back to his old party, the BJP, but he seemed to keep options open, stressing that he was not retiring.
There has also been talk that Mr Vaghela, Bapu to his supporters, could launch his own party, but there was no announcement on Friday.
"He wanted to be made the party's state president. But no party can comply with this request...It's something that the party must decide and cannot be left to individuals," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, adding, "Congress regrets a veteran leader of his stature resigning."
Under strict orders from the party to stay away, only two Congress lawmakers, Mr Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh and Raghavji Patel, turned up for the birthday celebrations, apart from two from the Nationalist Congress Party.
The cross-vote sent the Congress into a huddle. Up next are Rajya Sabha elections on August 8 for three seats in the state, one of which is held by Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The BJP holds the two other seats and will win those with ease. The BJP has 121 seats in the 182-member Gujarat assembly.
But the Congress could struggle to get Ahmed Patel back in the Upper House of parliament if its lawmakers cross-vote again. Rajya Sabha members are elected by lawmakers of the state they represent.
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