Gujarat: Shaktisinh Gohil Takes Over As New President Of State Congress
Shaktisinh’s biggest plus is he does not carry the weight of government contracts and similar sops by the ruling BJP; he belongs to an erstwhile royal family of Limbda of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra region, which has the most 48 seats in the assembly, and has good agricultural land.
Congress Rajya Sabha member and party in-charge for Delhi and Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil, 63, on Monday stepped into the unenviable role of the Gujarat Congress president, saddled with a tough task to breathe life into a moribund apparatus.
Reduced to an apologetic 17-seat tally in an assembly of 182 in 2022 from the Congress’s best performance of 77 seats in 2017, Gohil has several challenges with the 2024 Lok Sabha battle less than a year away. The Congress has not had a single Lok Sabha member in Gujarat since 2014 and all 26 seats are with BJP.
Before he looks out at the electorate, Gohil needs to do a clinical weeding process in the party. His huge challenge is to push out —not nudge — the spent forces, who neither grow themselves nor allow new youngsters to function. As he does it, he has the task to usher in youngsters with key responsibilities.
Having tried and tested all senior leaders, the Congress high command has put Shaktisinh at the helm of affairs not looking at his Rajput caste, which is hardly 5% of Gujarat’s population, nor does Gohil have a state-level pull of the people. In a new experiment, the central leadership has looked at the merit of the individual and the clean reputation.
Gohil Belongs To Bhavnagar’s Royal Family
Shaktisinh’s biggest plus is he does not carry the weight of government contracts and similar sops by the ruling BJP; he belongs to an erstwhile royal family of Limbda of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra region, which has the most 48 seats in the assembly, and has good agricultural land. He is unknown to have any escapades like other leaders, nor does he sell election tickets. He is soft-spoken and articulate. Given his background as a successful Gujarat High Court advocate and a former minister, he understands the state’s issues.
He handled multiple key portfolios like finance, education, health, environment, Narmada and general administration as a minister in the 90s and has been a leader of the opposition and chief whip in the assembly. These qualities may help him develop an incisive campaign template.
These advantages would have no meaning if Gohil is unable to neutralise the spoilers and vested interests and promote youngsters like party MLA Jignesh Mevani, GPCC vice-president Vijay Dave, GPCC chief spokesperson Manish Doshi and Ahmedabad leader Bimal Shah.
Another key factor in the Lok Sabha election will be how the Congress leadership deals with the Aam Aadmi Party, whose presence as a third force was instrumental in the party’s embarrassing performance in the 2022 assembly election.