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

Importance of Bangladesh for India amidst 'growing might' of China in South Asia

By Samara Ashrat*  The basic key factor behind the geopolitical importance of Bangladesh is its geographical location. The country shares land borders with Myanmar and India. Due to its geographical position, Bangladesh is a natural link between South Asia and Southeast Asia.  The country is also a vital geopolitical ally to India, in that it has the potential to facilitate greater integration between Northeast India and Mainland India. Not only that, due to its open access to the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh has become significant to both China and the US.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'BBC film shows only tip of iceberg': Sanjiv Bhatt's daughter speaks at top US press club

By Our Representative   The United States' premier journalists' organisation, the National Press Club (NPC), has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for recent "attacks on journalists in India." Speaking at the screening of an episode of the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question,” banned in India, in the club premises, NPC President Eileen O’Reilly said, “Since Modi came to power we have watched with frustration and disappointment as his regime has suppressed the rights of its citizens to a free and independent news media."

Regional political dynamics 'leading to' institutional violence in SAARC University

By Sandeep Pandey*  South Asian University is a university set up in Delhi by member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives – which is open to students from all these countries. However, as SAARC is receiving little attention these days because of regional political dynamics, it appears as if SAU has lost significance too. Because of the hiatus in peace process between India and Pakistan, the Board of Governors of this University is dysfunctional.

Natural farming: Hamirpur leads the way to 'huge improvement' in nutrition, livelihood

By Bharat Dogra*  Santosh is a dedicated farmer who along with his wife Chunni Devi worked very hard in recent months to convert a small patch of unproductive land into a lush green, multi-layer vegetable garden. This has ensured year-round supply of organically grown vegetables to his family as well as fetched several thousand rupees in cash sales.

Over-stressed? As Naveen Patnaik turns frail, Odisha 'moves closer' to leadership crisis

By Sudhansu R Das  Not a single leader in Odisha is visible in the horizon who can replace Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He has ruled Odisha for nearly two and half decades. His father, Biju Patnaik, had built Odisha; he was a daring pilot who saved the life of Indonesia’s Prime Minister Sjahrir and President Sukarno when the Dutch army blocked their exit.

Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Ban Ki-moon, others ask Bangladesh PM to 'protect' Yunus

Counterview Desk  A campaign has been launched to support Bangladesh-based economist, micro-finance guru and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, seeking signatures from citizens across the globe in order to “protect” his work, life and safety.

Electricity sharing opens up new window for India’s eastern neighbourhood engagement

By Sufian Asif* Today, challenges like climate change, pandemics, energy reliance, economic crisis, and many more are concerning us. No nation can overcome these obstacles without the assistance and collaboration of other nations. Most importantly, many of these problems have international repercussions. South Asia is facing much more difficulty when compared to other regions. In South Asia, we have some regional organizations, but they are ineffective.

'Vulgar display of wealth': Govt of India using G20 presidency for political, electoral gains

Counterview Desk  Seeking endorsement for a public statement on India's G20 Presidency, several people’s movements, trade unions and other civil society groups have come together to say that not only will G20 and its priorities “will worsen economic, social and climate crisis”, already, India’s presidency is being used “for vulgar display of pomp & for electoral gains.”