Skip to main content

Amit Shah's choice for Gandhinagar: Will ex-CM Anandiben Patel "play" a spoiler?

By RK Misra*
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Amit Shah as a replacement for BJP veteran LK Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency for the 2019 general elections, it was more to recreate the Atal-Advani visual imagery in governance than anything else.
Modi is a great one for symbolisms as image building tools . By replacing Advani with BJP party chief Amit Shah, the obvious message sought to be conveyed is that the seat has been given to the national party president as a mark of respect to the veteran leader who held it for seven terms.
The add-on is that after completion of his second term as party chief, Shah may find place in the Cabinet as a number two if BJP comes back to power at the Centre. The most enduring image that still moves the Jan Sangh-BJP imagery is the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-LK Advani duo.
Both images off course are a take-off from the original one in the first government of independent India -- Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his deputy Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It would not be too far-fetched to see Modi and Shah trying to recreate the same.
Modi trusts Shah implicitly and few others this way. The combination came to be forged during Modi’s chief ministerial days with Shah playing a crucial role exercising his chief’s proxy power handling the crucial position of minister of state for home (Modi himself kept the home portfolio). He even went to jail to shield his boss.
Imagery apart,'Shah looked after Advani’s Lok Sabha campaign in the earlier years. Thus Shah knows the constituency like the back of his hand. Advani was the sitting MP from Gandhinagar from 1991 till 2019 barring couple of years between 1996 and 1998.
Under Advani, it came to be known as the safest seat for BJP, despite the fact that it stretched from the state capital, Gandhinagar, through a flank of Ahmedabad to its southern extremity.
The seat originally belonged to later day BJP rebel Shankersinh Vaghela who had gifted it to Advani personally assuring his election. That Advani cast his lot with Modi when it came to choosing between the two is a different matter altogether, though it substantially changed the course of Gujarat and Indian politics later, leading to his own (Advani’s) marginalization!
It was in the last Lok Sabha election of 2014 helmed by Modi which brought him to power at the Centre that BJP scored a perfect 26 bagging all the seats from Gujarat.
In the aftermath of Advani, despite the veteran having lost relevance after the rise of Modi, things will not be all that easy for BJP in Gujarat, more so in Gandhinagar constituency . The party remained united for Advani, and the traditional rivalry between the Shah camp and that of former chief minister Anandiben Patel is bound to surface again, more so since Shah is himself the candidate.
In fact, Anandiben Patel was in Ahmedabad for a week during the period that the state BJP set-up was evaluating names of likely candidates from Gujarat.
Shah’s candidature also makes it abundantly clear that despite the boast of bagging all the 26 seats, the leadership is a worried lot. If the 2017 Assembly elections are taken as the yardstick, the BJP trailed in 8 Lok Sabha seats. These were Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan and Mehsana in north Gujarat; Junagadh, Amreli and Surendranagar in Saurashtra region and Anand in central Gujarat.
An upbeat Congress, after the last Assembly elections, is determined to take the battle into the rival camp. Rahul Gandhi started his election campaign from Dharampur in South Gujarat --the venue successfully chosen by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi for the return of the Congress to power.
More recently, it held the party’s Congress Working Committee meet in Ahmedabad where Priyanka Gandhi made her first political speech at a rally, where Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel formally joined the party.
This is the sole reason that the ruling party weaned away six congress legislators with Cabinet rank to two of them and an minister of state to another, besides assorted inducements for the remaining with an eye to gaining hold of caste vote banks. Despite all these, the support of the Patidar vote bank still continues to elude BJP, the Prime Minister’s own intervention notwithstanding.
As things stand, 2019 is not 2014 and there has been an erosion in the BJP votebank with Congress making major gains in the 2017 State Assembly elections. Shah’s boast of bagging 150 seats went abegging and BJP was down to 99, its lowest ever score after Modi took charge in 2001, with the Congress taking it’s tally to 77 in a total house of 182.
Despite the spate of induced desertions from the Congress through the lollipop of ministerial berths that has brought its tally down to 71, the fact is that Congress is expected to fare better than last time when it had touched rock bottom. This is also, in fair measure, due to the internal dissensions within the BJP wherein loyal leaders have been sidelined to reward turncoats from the Congress with plum posts.
It is common knowledge that the traditional Shah-Patel group rivalries, as well as those created by the turncoats entry is expected to make things lot tougher for Shah, though he may ultimately prevail.
In 2014 Advani had won the seat with a margin of 4,83,121 votes. That is a fairly tall order for someone wanting to step into veteran Advani’s illustrious and time-worn shoes!
---
*Veteran Gujarat-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

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".

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in