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Shankarsinh Vaghela quits Congress, says 'I am not a bonded labourer'

Former Gujarat chief minister Shankarsinh Vaghela formally announced on Friday that he has quit the Congress, alleging that he was not being allowed to put up a fight against the BJP.

"I have resigned as Leader of Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the Rajya Sabha election. I am not a bonded labourer in any party, I am a free bird now," Vaghela said at a big gathering of his supporters in Gandhinagar to mark his birthday celebrations.

Vaghela, who turns 77 today, had made the the startling revelation that the Congress had ''expelled'' him preemptively out of fear that he might say something untoward during his birthday celebrations on July 21.

"Congress has expelled me 24 hours before. They don't know what I was going to say," Vaghela said right at the beginning of his address.

He, however, said that he has no plans to retire from politics at the moment, fueling speculation that he may return to the BJP, which he quit a little under twenty years ago. However, he put these rumours to rest by stating unequivocally that he has no plans to join the BJP.

Vaghela was a BJP rebel who had merged his Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) with the Congress 17 years ago. After his abrupt dismissal from the party, he went on the offensive and said those who are honest and fighting for the public should not make compromises.

"People, who are complaining today, should have made good strategy then so that BJP must not have come to the power. But their (the Congress') small thinking and BJP's luck gave the power to BJP," Vaghela railed.

Insisting that he has no interest in power or post, the former Gujarat chief minister did not fail to recount his contribution to politics and the parties he served.

"I sent today's PM (Narendra Modi) to the BJP working committee. I brought Anandiben Patel in politics... Introduction of RTI laws was my suggestion to bring transparency into the system," he pointed out.