Skip to main content

Amit Shah for sure didn't visit Gujarat twice around Makarsankranti just to fly kites

By RK Misra*
With a critically important election in Delhi and the country in the grip of a debilitating anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-Nation Register of Citizens (NRC) stir, there has to be more than just ‘kite flying’ that brought Union home minister Amit Shah twice to Gujarat in a matter of ten days.
Ostensibly there were a string of engagements that dotted his official calendar during his visits, but these hardly reveal the complete picture. For the record, the home minister landed on home turf in the night of January 10 and left January 12 morning. He was back on the night of January 13 and after a two-day engagement left for Delhi again.
That Shah should be spending extended time in his home state when he has a packed plate in the crucial Delhi Assembly elections and an overflowing cup of woes in the proliferating nationwide student protests on the CAA-NRC issue, is a pointer to the serious business on hand.
While for the record Shah may have just spent two full working days in the course of his two visits but it is the oil burnt over four nights of brain storming and inter-actions that holds far greater relevance.
Within days of Shah leaving for Delhi the long festering discontentment had its fall-out when party legislator from Savli in Vadodara district, Ketan Inamdar, resigned his seat citing neglect of public interface by his own party government and ministers. Three party legislators of Bharuch district including a minister of state have upped the ante over the inability of the government in implementing the policy of providing 85 per cent jobs to locals in the state public sector, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fetilisers and Chemicals Limited (GNFC).
The three -- minister of state for Ishvarsinh Patel, and MLAs Arunsinh Rana and Dushyant Patel who had met the chief minister and submitted a memorandum -- have chosen to go public with their grievances against the government, as has former home minister Mahendra Trivedi. Damage control has saved the moment with Inamdar withdrawing his resignation but the problem persists.
Though JP Nadda has taken charge as the national BJP chief, Shah is expected to continue playing a dominant role in Gujarat affairs under the watchful eyes of the Prime Minister . A plethora of problems are lined up for his attention.
Taken together these include the looming Rajya Sabha elections, the contentious issues pertaining to the election/selection of key office-bearers including the near certain replacement of the state party chief, the continuing friction between the chief minister and the deputy chief minister and the public spats between BJP leaders including its ministers that is lowering the image of the party besides redressal of causative factors for the setback suffered in the last Assembly by-elections in the state.
Elections to 4 Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat are due in March . Three of these are held by BJP (union minister of state Purshottam Rupala, Lalsinh Varodaria and Chunnibhai Gohil) and one by the Congress (Madhusudan Mistry).
As things stand, BJP does not possess the numbers to repeat its performance. Of the total 182 seats in the State Assembly, the BJP has 103 seats, Congress 73, tribal outfit, Bharariya Tribal Party 2, Nationalist Congress Party 1, independent 1, and two seats are vacant. The Congress lost a dozen legislators to poaching by the ruling BJP in the run-up to the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, and five after it.
The Congress exudes confidence that it will be able to increase its tally to Rajya Sabha 2 while the BJP chief is confident of bagging 3 of the four, the number it held earlier. The only way this is possible is either through induced cross-voting or the ‘buyers-sellers’ meet. BJP is not new to it.
In the August 2017 Rajya Sabha election to 3 seats in which Shah himself, Smriti Irani and Ahmed Patel of the Congress were candidates, Shah himself had masterminded a strategy of inducing almost a dozen defections in a desperate bid to defeat Patel but failed. A similar strategy is not ruled out this time too.
The Rajya Sabha remains the Achilles heel of the ruling BJP where it has had to seek support from non-NDA parties to get crucial legislation through. Its dream of majority here has suffered a setback after it lost out in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, besides a substantially reduced tally in Haryana.
The crucial Assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar notwithstanding, the year 2020 will see elections to 73 seats in the Rajya Sabha countrywide with 69 members set to retire (18 from BJP,17 from the Congress) and 4 existing vacancies. A close analysis of the data reveals that BJP is unlikely to make any substantial gains and therefore the desperation.
The constant fencing between Chief Minister Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel is the worst kept secret in Gujarat
Similarly, in October last year two Congress turncoats, Alpesh Thakore and Dhavalsinh Jhala, who had been fielded by BJP, had lost when the Congress bagged three of the 6 Assembly seats in the by-polls and lost the fourth to a last round surge.
It is these by-election results that had both the Prime Minister and the home minister extremely upset. The result is that the departure of state party chief Jitu Vaghani is a certainty while the sword of Damocles hangs over the head of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who has received a temporary reprieve, thanks mainly to the top brass preoccupation with the CAA-NRC stir.
The constant fencing between Chief Minister Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel is the worst kept secret in Gujarat with bureaucrats getting sucked into the vortex of the push and pull leading to all round administrative laxity.
The return of Gujarat cadre IAS, Anil Mukim, from Delhi to take charge as chief secretary of the state in a bid to shore up matters has so far had little impact what with PMO pointsman, KK Kailashnathan, enjoying over-arching stature.
In fact, dissidence had surfaced soon after the 2017 Assembly elections. Inamdar was one of three BJP legislators from Vadodara, including Madhu Shrivastava and Yogesh Patel, who had in 2018 first raised the issue. Subsequently Yogesh Patel was inducted into the cabinet and Shrivastava made chairman of the Gujarat Agro-industries Corporation(GAIC). Last year party MP from Kaira, Devusinh Chauhan, Anand MP Mitesh Patel and Banaskantha MP Parbat Patel had raised issues which put their own government in the dock.
Though Inamdar’s resignation brought issues to the fore, those whom he charges with inaction-ministers- have themselves been voicing the same grievances. In the cabinet meeting on January 9, there were fireworks when three ministers went at each other alleging that the works related to their respective constituencies were not being done.
Water and civil supplies minister Kunvarji Bavaliya was particularly vocal and said that despite repeated reminders, even the work of BJP workers of his constituency were not being attended to.
An angry home minister soon waded into the duel with his own set of grievances in this regard with the deputy chief minister in his cross-hairs. The deputy chief minister, in turn, had his own complaints and it fell on the lot of chief minister Rupani to bring down temperatures with the light-hearted banter that even his works don’t get done. 
All in all, BJP in Gujarat is a house bitterly divided against itself.
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

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".

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

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.

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They