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

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

#StandWithStan: It's about Constitution, democracy and freedom of expression

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It is more than three weeks now: On the night of October 8, 2020, the 83-year-old Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy was taken into custody by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) from his residence in Ranchi to an undisclosed destination. According to his colleagues, the NIA did not serve a warrant on Fr. Stan and that their behaviour was absolutely arrogant and rude.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Dalit, Adivasi protest in Jharkhand against 'illegal' transfer of land for development

By Rishit Neogi Displacement and eviction are not new terms. It is surprising that they are still continuing and have become a tool in the hands of state backed corporates to forcibly occupy lands in the name of development.