Saturday, September 10, 2016

Worried PM "urgently summons" ex-Gujarat CM Anandiben following BJP's flop show at Surat Patidar meet

Anandiben Patel at Surat BJP meet
By Darshan Desai
The shocker that the Gujarat BJP received in presence of party president Amit Shah in Surat on Thursday night, when its first attempt to grapple with the agitating Patidars came a cropper, has led to a worried Prime Minister Narendra Modi urgently summon ousted Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel to Delhi.
Anandiben, who had to unceremoniously go just over a month ago, left in a private plane on the call of the prime minister for an urgent meeting, sources close to the development revealed.
Anandiben was present on the dais when young Patidars disrupted a rally that was billed to be the party’s show of Patel strength, forcing Amit Shah, chief minister Vipay Rupani and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani cut short their speeches to minutes. Such a show of protest is unusual for the BJP in Gujarat.
The ‘rajasva samaroh’ or royal felicitation of Patel legislators was organized by top real estate developers and diamond merchants of Surat to express the community’s confidence in the BJP government, and also to send out a message to the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by 23-year-old Hardik Patel that the Patidars had returned to the BJP.
The show of strength, according to reliable sources, was the brainchild of Amit Shah.
The state government had pulled out all stops to make the function a success. But it all came a cropper following ruckus at the meeting with Shah, chief minister Rupani, Jitu Vaghani and union minister Parshottam Rupala to cut short their speeches and make a hurried exit.
Amit Shah at Surat BJP meet
The police caned the mobs and burst teargas shells to quell rioting protestors. Among those watching the proceedings was former chief minister Anandiben along with other Patel legislators of the party.
Anandiben had quit just over a month ago, ostensibly for the inability of her government to ‘tackle’ the Patidar and later the Dalit agitation. The coup of her ouster and replacement with a novice minister of her cabinet, who had only a few months ago been made state party chief, was attributed to Amit Shah.
Vijay Rupani is Amit Shah’s protégé and Gujarat; for all practical purposes, Gujarat is now seen as under Shah’s proxy rule.
All through Narendra Modi’s over 12-year-long rule of the state, Anandiben and Amit Shah were considered his closest confidantes, but both remained daggers drawn. Even as Modi moved to Delhi to take over as prime minister, he ensured the chief ministership for Patel and the national party’s presidentship for Shah.
But that did not reduce their political rivalry. Even their supporters have remained at loggerheads.
Even after the change of guard in Gujarat, those considered close to Anandiben, whether politicians or civil servants, are in the process of being edged out. This has reportedly angered Anandiben and is not expected to let go any chance to get even with her political detractors within the party.
Patel agitators at Surat meet
Sources close to her claim it is with this in mind that she has so far turned down offers of other good placements including those as Governor.
The setback at Thursday night’s Surat event is cause for her to smirk. It was the turn of Shah to face the heat. A former home minister, Shah had ensured massive police presence at Surat. Two Inspector Generals of Police, one DIG, six DCPs, 13 ACPs, 29 inspectors, 70 police sub-inspectors, besides 2,000 policemen. But this could not deter the PAAS supporters.
The function was an issue of prestige and a target of one lakh audience was set, but over 15,000 turned up. The episode is an indicator that the BJP has a problem at hands in terms of a major vote bank which cannot be wished away.
Also that the damaging charges being leveled against Hardik Patel recently of bungling of PAAS funds and autocratic behaviour, through some of his supporters, have not dented his popularity. The PAAS, in turn, has got a shot in the arm.

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