Skip to main content

If BJP faces debacle in Gujarat local polls, Amit Shah may fulfill lifelong desire of becoming state chief minister

Anandiben Patel with Amit Shah
By RK Misra*
More often than not, victory walks in on a bicycle when vanity is sanguinely sailing the skies. The cymbals have ceased and the soldiers are back in their camps: the one to savour success and the other to debate the debacle. But India, after the battle of the ballot in Bihar will never be the same again. A national political realignment has begun. Two crushing blows in a row – Delhi and now Bihar – has the garrulous Narendra Modi government dumbstruck.
Even as it seeks to brazen it’s way out of the cul-de-sac with hurried announcement of a long pending reformist agenda, a third setback hovers menacingly on the horizon. Incidentally, it was not Pakistan where crackers were burst after the BJP defeat in Bihar but in Amit Shah’s own Gujarat. And not in some isolated cases but in most cities , town and villages of the state!
Modi and party chief Amit Shah’s bastion, Gujarat, is under siege. Though State Assembly elections in Gujarat are due only in 1917, a two phase poll for 323 local self-government bodies covering a large chunk of it’s 3,78,15,306 voters constituting 65 per cent of it’s total population are set to vote this month. These include six out of it’s total eight municipal corporations, 230 tehsil panchayats, 56 municipalities and 31 district panchayats .The BJP presently rules 150 tehsil panchayats, 42 municipalities, 30 district panchayats and all the eight municipal corporations.
With Gujarat in the grip of a full-scale rebellion by it’s numerically strong and financially stable Patidar community, the Anandiben Patel-led BJP government faces the most torrid test of it’s 18 month old government.
Patidar (Patel) community constitutes about 14 per cent of the total 63 million Gujarat population. The chief minister herself is a Patel as is the state BJP chief RC Fardu and seven of the 24 ministers and 42 of the total 182 legislators belong to the community. With 21 per cent voter representation, the Patels are demanding caste based reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.
Led by a 22 year old youth, Hardik Patel, the agitation has witnessed a violent statewide upsurge that led to 8 people losing their lives and Rs 25,000 crore in losses to public property and business in just under a week of violence in August. Hardik and his associates have been booked under sedition charges and are behind bars and this has only added fuel to simmering fires.
While the existing reservation beneficiary classes including the OBCs had made known their opposition to the Patidar demand, ironically they are now on the same side after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s famous rethink statement on reservations.
Turned into a BJP fortress under the almost 13 years of Modi rule, Gujarat is belatedly feeling a roll away effect.
An entire community is publicly going all out to defeat the BJP. Banners have come up outside residential societies announcing the imposition of ‘prohibitory’ orders on the entry of BJP candidates or poll canvassers. “Vote the Congress to defeat the BJP” is the slogan all over. BJP candidates are finding themselves in such a pitiable condition in many places that they are being hounded out by people.
Such is their plight that in Unjha town considered the cumin seed trading capital of the country, the BJP could not put up a single candidate under it’s lotus symbol and had to do so as independents .A top Congress leader Dhiru Gajera (Patel) in Surat who was planning to switch sides faced such an onslaught from his community that he had to make a hurried announcement that he would not do so.
“The kurmis in Bihar have shown their power by voting full scale against the BJP with clear results. Now watch out for our revenge in Gujarat”, points out Patidar leader Atul Patel. Congress, for long the underdogs, are now the beneficiary of this unforeseen largesse.
A concerned chief minister Patel ordered a study of their prospects by her CMO and the results paint a grim picture. The number of sensitive booths is up by leaps and bounds and the state government has asked for 100 companies of paramilitary forces for peaceful conduct of the polls. The state government had desperately tried to stall the elections even getting an ordinance passed by the state governor on the recommendations of the State Election Commission (SEC).
However the High Court struck down the ordinance and gave a mouthful to the SEC directing it to hold them forthwith. “If elections can be held in Jammu and Kashmir ,surely you can too ”, it stated. Things are bad for the BJP in Gujarat for these polls ,say political observers.
Thus it is that two of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closest confidantes are in deep trouble. While party president Amit Shah is facing flak for the Bihar debacle, Anandiben Patel is being targeted by her own community leaders within the party. In the case of Shah, veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar have already made public their demand for accountability.
This in short is the demand for Shah’s head with party MPs from Bihar also chiming in. Modi is not one to give in so easily because it is through Shah that he maintains a cast iron grip over the party apparatus.
Similarly, in Gujarat the agitation was initially backed by party insiders who had taken recourse to this community stir in a bid to target chief minister Patel fully aware that the Prime Minister would not allow destabilising the present government in Gujarat.
However, a setback in the ensuing local self-government elections will force a re-think and therefore a question mark on the future of Anandiben Patel stares her in the face. Similarly if the demand for Shah’s removal gains momentum, Modi may be forced to move him.
In such a backdrop the likelihood of Shah fulfilling his lifelong desire of becoming the chief minister of Gujarat may find fulfillment as Modi will not trust the state in anybody except his very trusted hands. Anandiben Patel may then find place in the Modi cabinet at the Centre. But before that happens, he will require a trusted replacement for Shah in cut-throat Delhi. Easier said than done!
---
*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. RK Misra's blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…