Skip to main content

BJP juggernaut in Gujarat has been steadily going down: It will use every means, fair or foul, to bust its opponent

By RK Misra*
Even as the Gujarat state assembly elections draw nearer, the Congress should not forget: The August Rajya Sabha polls, which saw Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's political adviser Ahmed Patel victorious under extremely odd circumstances, has clearly brought out that the BJP will use everything at its command, every authority in its armoury, using means fair or foul, to bust its opponent. The ends justify the means. And there are reasons for it.
No doubt, the perception of the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election, which concluded on August 8, is that the brute might of the BJP-government and the party working in tandem, has been busted by the sheer grit of Ahmed Patel and the Gujarat Congress. Call it a conspiracy of colluding factors or just happenstance, but the BJP juggernaut in Gujarat, has been steadily going downhill, while the Congress graph is on the upswing.
One needs to finely go through the sequence of events leading to the victory of Patel if events that followed are to be viewed in proper perspective. A morale booster it surely has been for a Congress wracked by a battlefield desertion and key elements walking into the rival camp. But an election victory is never complete in an era of poor losers. The renegade Congressman turned BJP candidate, Balwantsinh Rajput has challenged the decision of the Election Commission in the Gujarat High Court but the judicial system here grinds too slowly for instant relief.
The fact of the matter is that the AICC chief’s political advisor quite literally snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It is lawyer leader Shaktisinh Gohil’s knowledge of parliamentary procedures, his quick thinking and a momentary lapse by two of the Congress rebels, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, owing allegiance to the raja of rebellion, Shankersinh Vaghela that saved the day for Patel. Their votes were invalidated by the Election Commission and he scraped through by the skin of his teeth.
When the election process began it was billed as a placid affair. Three seats were coming up for re-election and by sheer weight of numbers two would go to the BJP -- party chief Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani -- and the third to the Congress' Ahmed Patel, political advisor to AICC.
Then Shah in concert with his boss decided to raise the stakes and link it to strategic moves to destabilise it’s already battered principal opponent, both in the state as well as at it’s centre. So it was that a simple poll turned into a pressure cooker contest that will influence state and national politics.
Gujarat goes to polls in 2017 and India two years thereafter. Three principal players of opposing sides -- Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ahmed Patel -- slated to play a key role in both polls hail from Gujarat. Two of these were directly involved in the Rajya Sabha election that concluded on August 8 and the shadow of the third loomed large over the entire proceedings.
The contest turned into a slugfest when BJP poached three Congress legislators turned one of them, a party chief whip (Balwantsinh Rajput) into their third Rajya Sabha candidate thereby setting the cat amongst the pigeons. Three others resigned their Assembly seats over the next few days, bringing the Congress strength down from 57 legislators to 51.
Shah went all out to defeat Patel and the Congress was forced to shepherd 44 of it’s 51 remaining legislators to the safe confines of Karnataka where the party is in power. In a brazen, even naked demonstration of it’s power of pursuit, central agencies conducted raids on the houses and establishments of the minister who was looking after the Congress legislators.
This could not have been possible without clearance from the highest authority in the government. However, for all its pains, the BJP managed to break only one of the 44 legislators, Karamshi Patel. He had pulled off a ruse by feigning illness and his son was allowed to stay with him. It was this son who became Karamshi’s conduit to the BJP and he voted against Congress after enjoying it’s hospitality in Bangaluru.
The Congress for a change showed a rare ferocity in latching onto the technical lapse, demanding invalidation of the two rebel votes for contravention of rules The BJP also refused to relent. When the scene shifted to the Election Commission in Delhi, both sides pulled out their top guns, former ministers and serving ministers lined up in a game of hu-tu-tu.
The government pulled out all stops in a bid to pressure the national poll body but in vain. A video of the voting perused by the CEC clinched the issue for the Congress with the two votes held invalid and Patel joined Shah and Irani who managed their quota of 46 votes into the Rajya Sabha with a personal tally of 44 votes.
The BJP remains very wary of Sonia Gandhi personally and members of the Congress first family as a whole. The decimation of it’s credibility is the single-minded pursuit of the party in power.This is because it has witnessed firsthand her ability to virtually single-handedly pierce the ‘India shining’ shroud of the NDA government to sculpt the revival of the Congress led UPA which had a two-term rule. On an ideological plane,the idea of the Congress as a natural party of governance for over half a century has to be erased before the RSS-BJP version of ‘Bharat’ can be implanted.
Ever since Modi left for Delhi, the ruling BJP has been floundering from one crisis to another. His 13 year rule in Gujarat turned him into a unitary command centre of both government and party. Both chief ministers who followed, Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupani, paled into insignificance in comparison. Hit by ethnic strife and anti-incumbency, disenchantment has risen manifold. Patidars, the strongest supporters of the BJP are up in arms and the dalits in a rebellious mood. In such a backdrop,the only way to raise your stock is by pulling down your rivals. A Patel defeat would have restored some balance. However this did not happen.
Patel’s victory could not have come at a better time for him. He is now the ‘tarzan’ who survived the onslaught of the Modi government and the ‘surgical strike’ of Shah’s party, no mean a feat. Within the Congress, the youth brigade led by Rahul Gandhi who were pushing the old guards into oblivion will now have to contend with a rejuvenated Patel. 
His writ now runs large both in the ensuing polls in the state as well as nationally within his own party. He showed his fangs by sacking 14 party leaders including Shankersinh Vaghela and his son, no sooner he was elected. But more than just a pyrrhic victory will be needed to end the over three decade old poll draught in Gujarat this year and claw the Congress back into national reckoning in 2019.
Nevertheless, the worm seems to be turning!
---
Senior journalist based in Gandhinagar. Blog: https://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.