Modi - Rahul Mind Games ; Next Chessboard Gujarat

BY R.K.MISRA

The BJP under Narendra Modi is a good teacher and the Congress helmed by Rahul Gandhi, a fast learner.

After the Congress succeeded in fending off a determined BJP effort to form the government in Karnataka, Gujarat, is warming up to mind games between the two principal opponents, one seeking an encore and the other determined to safeguard it’s turf.

Gujarat, always important in the scheme of BJP’s national affairs, has acquired added importance as the home state of the Prime Minister.

After Congress managed to snatch back Karnataka in the recently concluded state assembly elections, despite Governor Vajubhai Vala inviting the BJP to form the government, it has been emboldened enough to explore the possibility of a coup in Gujarat.

The BJP, on the other hand, is determined to ensure that no such Congress moves fructify as it would be lethal to lose Gujarat in the run-up to the general elections due next year. Also figuring in the list of correctives is a change of the captain and the vice-captain.

 After the Karnataka set back to the BJP which -hastily rather than- craftily sought to stitch together a government in that southern state of India and came a cropper, the Congress has upped the ante in Gujarat.

Speculation has been mounting that a prominent BJP leader of the state may walk out of the party with about twenty five disgruntled legislators to form an independent group or party which could stake claim to form a government with Congress support. This would be a repeat of I995 when Shankersinh Vaghela rebelled to split the BJP and bring down the Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta governments in quick succession.

The stage was set by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel in the last week of May when he offered his position to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel as head of PAAS if he resigned from the government and joined the patidar pro-reservation movement.

‘’The BJP is determined to effect the political encounter of Nitin Patel by removing him from the Vijay Rupani government on some pretext or the other. This is how three patel leaders,Keshubhai Patel,Gordhan Jhadapia and  recently Dr Pravin Togadia have been meted this fate. So will happen to Nitin Patel.There are already twenty four legislators waiting to jump ship and many of them have already contacted us’’, Hardik had stated.

Though Nitin Patel denied that he was thinking of moving out of the BJP and termed it a move to tar his reputation at the instance of the Congress, speculation has refused to die down.

At it’s core is believed to be BJP chief Amit Shah’s unhappiness with Patel. Outgoing chief minister Anandiben Patel had favoured Nitin as her replacement but Shah managed to get his lightweight protégé Vijay Rupani appointed,  with Patel being relegated to the post of deputy chief minister.

Again, throughout the 20I7 Gujarat assembly polls , Nitin Patel was projected as the patidar face of the BJP to blunt the aggressive Hardik and his PAAS. However Nitin  was again sought to be marginalized in government formation after he got elected  and the BJP managed to scrape through. He remained the deputy chief minister  but the key finance portfolio was taken away from him. Though in the face of a PAAS outcry and tantrums by Patel, finance was restored ,he ,nevertheless has remained in Amit Shah’s crosshairs.

The marginalization of Anandiben Patel’s supporters and her departure from the scene following her appointment as Governor of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh is  another of the reasons.  Despite Nitinbhai’s persistent denial, Hardik continues to remain optimistic.

The BJP has not been twiddling it’s thumb either and is determined to de-fang Hardik, aware of his damage potential. No wonder some of his former colleagues who had switched over to the BJP have opened up a front against him and threatened legal action against the allegations levied by a young 24-year-old that they had received crores to break the agitation and defame him (Hardik).

Hardik made these allegations after a series of videos went viral on social media showing senior community members interacting with members of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti  and talking about ‘someone’s efforts to offer something’ to PAAS leaders.

As many as 10 PAAS leaders from Hardik’s initial team have deserted him thus far since the stir began. Hardik, recently also gave out names of several businessmen and BJP leaders from the community, who he said were entrusted with the job of offering money and wean away Patel quota stir leaders. One of them has filed a police complaint and two of them sought an apology in writing failing which they intend to file defamation cases.

Meanwhile the Congress has demanded a special session of the Gujarat Assembly to discuss a host of issues including government failure to withdraw police cases against the youth who participated in the patel quota stir as promised by the BJP before the elections. A letter to this effect has been sent to the chief minister by the leader of the opposition, Paresh Dhanani.

It’s overwhelming superiority of the Modi-era eroded in the last elections, the Congress has no qualms in fishing in troubled BJP waters in Gujarat.

After all, a good teacher knows the rules but a good student masters the exceptions.


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