The Economist’s editorial

Editorial : The Economist, May 17

OVER THE past seven years Indians have watched Narendra Modi’s neat hair and trim beard grow ever whiter and longer. There was no way to miss the change, because there was no escaping the prime minister’s image. He was everywhere: on television snipping ribbons, waving to adoring crowds and grappling foreign leaders; on posters doling out subsidised cooking gas or cheerleading for pilgrimages to Hindu holy sites; and even, in recent months, gazing benignly out of vaccination certificates next to the words “Together, India will defeat covid-19”.

Yet, as covid casualties climbed and then rocketed up in mid-April, the omnipresent Mr Modi started fading like the Cheshire Cat. One month on, newscasts still tell of “top level” prime-ministerial meetings, but without accompanying footage. His ever less frequent speeches sound droning and perfunctory. The billboards persist, but that is because under lockdown there is no one to paste over old advertisements. And those vaccine certificates grow rarer because fewer people are getting the jab: Mr Modi’s government has failed to procure enough doses.

As a catastrophic second wave crashes over them, Indians might have expected their prime minister to rally the nation. He is, after all, not only a popular and powerful leader but a skilled orator and famed showman, always ready with a flashy costume and a catchy soundbite. His personal talent for capturing the camera is aided by a mighty party machine, and boosted further by a fawning media claque. When things were going well in the fight against the virus, Mr Modi was happy to take the limelight. Now, with thousands dying daily, and many more failing to find life-giving oxygen or simply a dignified funeral for their loved ones, Indians are finding he has nothing to say. Instead of signalling solace or hope, in his rare appearances the now long-bearded figure continues to deliver finger-wagging homilies and boasts of his government’s achievements. “When we needed a warrior we see instead a Himalayan sage,” muses Karan Thapar, one of India’s most seasoned television interviewers.

Yet this is not the first time the prime minister has vanished amid a crisis. In other moments of turmoil Mr Modi has similarly chosen to step back rather than forward, and to let lesser officials deal with the problem—or take the rap for failing to. When anti-Muslim pogroms roiled the state of Gujarat in 2002, soon after he had become its chief minister, Mr Modi also vanished into “top-level” conclaves. He was too busy to respond to multiple appeals to rescue Ehsan Jafri, a prominent politician who spent five hours besieged in his home, vainly telephoning for help, before a mob burst in to burn him alive along with 68 Muslim neighbours who had taken refuge there. As prime minister, Mr Modi was absent for months as lynch mobs rampaged in the name of “cow protection.” When nationwide protests against new citizenship laws broke out in 2019, when sectarian riots exploded in Delhi a few months later and when more massive protests erupted again last autumn over new farm laws, the prime minister was nowhere to be seen.

In fact, the tendency to shy away from bad news has become a trademark not just of Mr Modi, but of his government. The prime minister himself has never held a press conference, and typically reserves interviews for servile reporters. His lesser ministers, too, have over time grown less accessible and less amenable to questioning. The government’s face in the fight against covid-19 is a bank of number-spouting technocrats, wheeled out for a weekly news conference. As the tide of tragedy has risen, officials appear to spend ever more energy attacking critics, or belittling private initiatives that put the government’s efforts to shame, rather than dealing with the crisis.

When a stage empties, other actors step in. Cartoonists, an increasingly harried profession under Mr Modi, are now on the offensive, picturing the prime minister hiding in his closet with his multicoloured “Modi jackets”, or playing a fiddle surrounded by funeral pyres. Many have attacked his government’s tone-deaf insistence on pursuing a $2.6bn vanity remake of the government complex in central Delhi in the midst of a pandemic. “And here is the secret bunker where you can hide from any national crisis,” says a cartoon architect, pointing at what others have derided as the “coffin-shaped” design of India’s planned new parliament building. Another cartoon inserts long white beards into a snakes-and-ladders board where the goal is to get vaccinated. Land on a wrong square, such as “government runs out of vaccine”, and you slide back down the beard.

Nor is it just professional funsters who are weighing in. On May 12th India’s biggest student union filed a missing-person report for Amit Shah, the home minister, on the grounds that Mr Modi’s closest henchman, who also happens to be the most feared person in India, has not been sighted for weeks during the worst phase of a pandemic. Around the same time, posters began to appear around Delhi questioning the government’s decision to send millions of vaccine doses abroad before securing enough for “our children”. When Mr Shah’s police began arresting those putting up the posters, thousands, including Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, promptly shared the posters on social media along with the words “arrest me too.”

But perhaps the hardest blow to Mr Modi’s image may be one from a less expected quarter. Writing in the prime minister’s native tongue, Gujarati, Parul Khakkar, a housewife-turned-poet whose verse is much-admired in the prime minister’s own Hindu-nationalist circles, penned a short, bleak poem addressing a king. Your promised “Ram rajya” or heavenly kingdom, she concludes every stanza, has made of the sacred Ganges a corpse-carrying hearse. And the king, his people now see, is naked.

After receiving more than 25,000 abusive messages, Ms Khakkar had to turn her Facebook page private. But her bitter diatribe has gone, for want of a better word, viral.

One Year of Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity and Impact on Tribals

“First the government took land from our ancestors, now they have taken our land too. We were shown dreams of employment, snatched our stalls. Land gone, house gone and now employment too gone. When we take our herd to graze, our cows are locked up slapping penalties of Rs 300. Where do we go? We will die in the shadow of this statue”.

These are the words of Jitendra Tadvi, a tribal in Gujarat’s Narmada district. The land acquired for Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity belonged to Jitendra’s father Jeevan Tadvi. Tadvi’s land and ancestral house were taken away for Sardar Sarovar dam. The piece of land given to Tadvi in lieu of that was again taken away years later to build Sardar Patel statue.

Jitendra started a tea stall near Narmada dam as he was helped to buy tea stall under Van bandhu yojana. When Sardar Patel’s statue of unity project began, Jitendra had to vacate the tea stall and move to a location away. When the government decided to beautify the area surrounding statue, all the stalls and tapris were removed.  Once again Jitendra’s lifeline was destroyed. Meanwhile ‘Shresth Bharat Bhavan’ building project began and Tadvi’s last piece of farmland was acquired for it.

Jitendra Tadvi said:” When I got a stall to sell tea under Van bandhu yojana, I thought the good karma of ancestral land taken from my father paid us in form of this help. My father told us that we are giving our land away for the benefit of large population as water from Narmada dam will benefit many. But he was proven wrong”

“I was given a piece of land 50 kms away from Kevadia. But when statue of unity project took the land given to us as compensation too. Besides, the crop was destroyed when the land around statue was filled with water in the dam. Entire harvest was submerged to make the statue look beautiful”.

“Now the land around the statue is being developed to make parks and hotels for which all the stalls are removed, land acquired again leaving us without any means of earning. Our survival is impossible now”.

I used to sell tea, cattle grazing would give me milk and I could educate my children to make their future secure. Now we have nothing to live on as cattle grazing too is not allowed and if we attempt, we have to pay fine of Rs 300 each time. Vehicles to catch cattle have been brought specially from Vadodara”

“We are starving for last two months but there is no one to help us”

Tribal activist Praful Vasava says:” Changes in Sardar Sarovar dam project spared 6 villages around Kevadia and tribals living there got some respite from rehabilitation. But Statue of Unity project took that away too”

Disregarding Gram Panchayat, even grazing land is acquired and farms have been bulldozed to make car parking lots. The 6 villages spared earlier have now been acquired to make Tiger park, Safari park. Tribals were told earlier that the ‘Panchayat Extension Schedule Act’ is in place so tribal rights will be protected. But in reality, even grazing land is snatched away and trees have been culled in huge numbers to develop project. Tribals approached Gujarat High Court too and got stay order. But the government has disregarded that too to build Haryana Bhavan as well as park. No local tribals got the benefit of temporary employment too as skilled labourers were brought from outside by contractors.

Former BJP CM of Gujarat Suresh Mehta terms this entire Statue of Unity project as na example of authoritarianism. Mehta alleges this project is used as a pretext to destroy tribals.  Modi had announced Sardar Patel statue in 2010 as a landmark of completing 10 years as CM. State government did not have money to fund the project so iron donation initiative was launched across the country. But even that initiative needed funds which was an issue. So Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Integration Trust was made and 36 offices were opened across India. Government allocated funds to this trust making Sardar Sarovar Corporation Chairman a trustee and subsequently diverting Sardar Sarovar Corporation funds to the trust.

When Sardar Patel statue project was launched, tribals were removed from there giving them stalls under Van Bandhu Yojana. CSR money aggregated from corporates funded the project. To show the mammoth cost of the project is generating revenue, Rd 6 crores is shown as income in the first year. In reality a total of 1200 acres land has been acquired unethically and illegally despite High Court’s stay order.

The tribals have no one to protect them and fight for injustice apart from a handful of activists who are easily being crushed by the mighty government machinery labelling them as anti Gujarat forces.

For now there is no future of displaced tribals in and around Statue of Unity.



Asaduddin Owaisi set to upstage Congress in Gujarat on course to launch AIMIM in the state

Close on the heels of recent report in Gujarat’s media that All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led  by Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi  is likely to storm in Gujarat in couple of months and will fight local elections which are slated in 2020. The development has sent Muslim leaders of Indian National Congress in a tizzy.  

Last week, Ahmedabad based Times of India first gave strong hint that Muslims of the state are very much unhappy with Congress and likely to vote for option in future.The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has been creating a base of supporters in Ahmedabad and other parts of the state. AIMIM is aiming to contest the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections next year.

 In February, 2019, Muslim Mahamanthan event was held  organized at Mirzapur Chowk, in Ahmedabad (walled city) a heavily Muslim dominated area. Waris Pathan, MLA of the AIMIM from Byculla constituency, Bombay was the  chief guest. Some Famous ulemas, activists and even some former Congressmen were spotted on the stage.  

The most important development in recent Loksabha election  is the victory of Imtiaz Jaleel, the All India Majlis-e-Itthadul Muslimeen candidate in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. For the first time since its inception, the AIMIM have two MPs in Parliament. So far the party was restricted to its bastion Hyderabad that it has won continuously since 1984.  

Moreover, AIMIM, which initially operated in Hyderabad only, expanded itself in Maharashtra in the last assembly elections and managed to win two seats. It also won several seats in municipal polls in Nanded and other towns bordering Telangana. In Last Loksabha election.

The propaganda of economics

This piece of crap is being peddled on Whatsapp by chaddis:

“Is there an uneasy correlation between the number of gloomy, almost apocalyptic stories about India’s financial markets and the ugly fight that started off sometime last year between India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX)? Methinks so. First, let me put forth the hyptothesis:

Bloomberg and Bloomberg Quint which are based out of Singapore have been relentless and scathing in their attacks on Indian policy makers in a manner never seen before.

If you see the daily feed of stories that come from some of the best and brightest journalists Bloomberg recruited, there seems to be a perverse pleasure in labelling every move by India’s policy makers as ill-conceived or wrong or incompetent or even callous.

It appears something wrong is happening every day – our GDP numbers are not true, there are more jobless than employed, nobody is buying cars or motorbikes in India, hundreds of companies are going belly up, defaults are dime a dozen (not exactly but somewhat true), and recession is here in India now before it is showing up in rest of the world. Or more abject gutter news to that effect about India. And this has been going on since May 2018 when the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) decided to end all data-licensing and live-quote-feeds to the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) for protecting its rights over NSE indices like NSE futures and options, Rupee Interest Rate derivatives and other indices. NSE has since then filed a case against SGX in Bombay High Court and ended all sharing of feeds to SGX which the former felt is shifting a lot of liquidity away from the Indian bourse to offshore.

Ever since, SGX stock price has also fallen and lot of foreign investors reacted adversely to NSE’s move punishing both the underlying Indexes in India as well as the derivatives contracts being traded in SGX.

The fight between NSE and SGX was unprecedented as it ended a 16 year old convenient arrangement between two of Asia’s leading exchanges. Singapore itself has been a hotbed of trading on rupee-dollar trade, box trades (popularly known as dabba trading) and thriving on NSE options and futures which are amongst the top five most traded in the world.

It was convenient to a number of Foreign Investors too who are registered in Singapore rather than having to register in India. In a way, trading and algorithmic trading in Nifty contracts became rampant and spectacular there until the NSE saw a lot of legitimate business which should have translated on-shore (to India) disappear into offshore (Singapore).

Now, could there be a wider correlation between this and the news coming via Bloomberg? As I said, very much yes. Here’s why: Bloomberg terminals track many users doing trades in Nifty. And many of them who trade on SGX, in Singapore, either use Bloomberg terminals or Reuters terminals.

While Reuters has been reasonably benign and moderate in commentating about India’s re-elected leadership or market policies, Bloomberg (which has more skin in the game) by virtue of it’s higher market leadership in terminals used by Foreign Investors and Offices set up outside India has become bold and pervasively pessimistic about India’s Financial System – it might suit them and scribes like Andy Mukherjee to create daily doomsday scenarios about Indian markets about to implode.

But investors and market players know what to read and how much is too much to read into. If India’s GDP figures are all lies, there would have been a flight of capital by now.

If nobody is making money from the markets, our outflows in Mutual Funds would have been staggering (we are still somewhere in the Rs.20,000 crore mark against a SIP book of Rs.60,000 crore per annum).

And no, the government is not blind to the beleagured companies’ defaults, they have already begun acting since they took charge, a muti-pronged, simultaneous cleanup is happening with SEBI, RBI and market players (being judged into M&As amongst various NBFCs).

You can rest assured somewhere solutions are looming and snowballing to quell the contagion.

Again, recession is not the same as Depression and the word recession has arisen 30 times in the last 14 or 15 bear markets – and it takes a lot more by way of a fall in key indicators before recession is confirmed in a consumption-led economy like India where multiple headwinds are showing up at the same time.

In summary, I feel there’s some vested interest in labelling India a laggard, an economic disaster or a systemic failure and this has triggered an obsession with writing negatively on Indian markets. Most of the news items that leak out of Quint Bloomberg appear to have a squinted view of things in India.

Hello, Bloomberg and SGX stop whipsawing India because you lost a more terminals out of liquidity moving back to India or because NSE checked you out of your stealing ways.

The grapes are not that sour and India is not as bad as your headlines make it out to be. Writing bad about India is easy – don’t fall into that familiar trap. Take a break or learn balanced journalism from Reuters.

Post-script: A view from a respected analyst came that the real reason for the anti- India stance is because Bloomberg Quint is owned by Ravi Vagal who is being denied TV license in India for two years by the BJP government.

The above inference could be sheer coincidence.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Here is the fact:

“.This is what is the fact:”The Indian Broking community was given a chance to break the monopoly of SGX nifty by increasing the number of hours of trading in India in order to match the extended hours of Singapore. But, Indian brokers too do not want to go ahead citing irrational reasons.

Today also as per IST – SGX starts at 7 am and ends at 9 pm IST – giving distinct advantage to NRIs and FIIs.

Coming to the loss of Bloomberg Terminals. It does not mean that business has come back to India. Brokers like Interactive Brokers and more have captured this business which has helped the Europe and America based traders.

This anomaly will continue till Indian brokers do not gear up for a 19 hour session. As it is most trading happens on-line so I do not see where is the issue that they have raised on overheads. In fact their problem is that they want to run a parallel book against their own clients and that will not happen.”


मोदी साहब, कहां से ‘पिछड़े’ हैं आप?

मोदी साहब, कहां से ‘पिछड़े’ हैं आप? अगर आप सचमुच ‘पिछड़े’ हैं तो

1. आपके सारे दरबारी, सलाहकार और मददगार सिर्फ कुलीन, कारपोरेट और अगड़े क्यों है भाई?

2. आपके शासन में भारत के केंद्रीय विश्वविद्यालयों में दलित-पिछड़े समाज के कितने बौद्धिक वाइसचांसलर बने?

3. संविधान के प्रावधानों को तोड़-मरोड़कर ‘अगड़ों’ को आरक्षण देने का फैसला किस सरकार ने किया? 13 सूत्री रोस्टर का मामला कहां से खड़ा हुआ? इस फैसले से सर्वाधिक घाटा दलित-पिछड़ों-आदिवासियों का हुआ!

4. आपके मंत्रिमंडल के शीर्ष 10 मंत्रालयों में पिछड़े समुदाय के कितने मंत्री हैं?

5. दलित-बहुजन समाज से आए रोहित वेमुला जैसे अत्यंत प्रतिभाशाली शोध छात्र ने किन राजनीतिक शक्तियों के उत्पीड़न से तंग आकर आत्महत्या की थी?

6. भारत में ओबीसी कमीशन है। इसके जरिए पिछड़ों को खंड-खंड करने की योजना कौन बना रहा है? इसका कुल बजट कितना है?

7. यूपी में मुठभेड़ हत्याओं में मारे गये युवाओं में तकरीबन 60 फीसदी पिछड़े समुदाय के लोग हैं! अपने को ‘ओबीसी’ बताकर अपने आपको ‘विक्टिम’ साबित करने में जुटे प्रधानमंत्री जी, ऐसा क्यों होता है?

8. अभी नौ लोगों को भारत सरकार में सीधे संयुक्त सचिव बनाकर पदस्थापित किया गया! इनमें कोई भी IAS नहीं! फिर भी बन गए Joint secretary. इनमें कितने लोग ‘पिछड़े’ समुदायों से हैं प्रधानमंत्री जी?

9. बीते पांच सालों में भारतीय जेलों में पिछड़े वर्गों से आए विचाराधीन कैदियों की संख्या कितनी रही?

10. बीते पांच सालों में मौजूदा सरकार के विभिन्न कारपोरेशंस, थिंक टैंकों, बड़े संस्थानों और अन्य संस्थानों में ओबीसी समाज से कितने लोगों को नियुक्त किया गया?

किसे धोखा दे रहे हैं, जनाब?

अपने ‘ओबीसी’ होने के नाम पर आम लोगों को क्यों बेवकूफ बना रहे हैं?

Maternity is a curse for women in Gujarat

Modi’s ‘Women Empowerment’ is such a bogus slogan that it’s exposed in this young Gujarati woman’s heartbreaking story. Ms Snehal Pranav Kumar Rana was working as a Lab Technician in Bharuch Civil Hospital for 7 years. She went on 6 months maternity leave. When she reported back to work she was told she’s lost job as her job is now outsourced. The woman questioned Govt whether she has the right of motherhood or not as an Indian citizen or not.

The underlying story is that under Modi as CM, Gujarat introduced temp jobs in most Govt offices across the spectrum and later introduced job outsourcing to show increased job data. Till this day, various departments like health, education, which consist of larger workforce have been facing agitations by employees in vain.

Asha worker women have been facing injustice of losing jobs because of maternity and that issue gained traction during Gujarat elections 2017. To an extent that one Asha worker woman confronted PM Modi in his Vadodara campaign for which she was detained and tortured by authorities mercilessly.

This #LokSabhaElections2019 in Gujarat at least look (based on poll data) that if local issues are debated then BJP will likely lose between 10 & 14 seats. Perhaps that’s why the attempt is to bring nationalism into focus brushing aside real issues of jobs, farmers distress and economy.

Gujarat: A Political Bird’s Eye View After Poaching

9th March was an important day in Gujarat’s politics. On this ‘Black Friday’ Gujarat witnessed a political storm. Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani’s brief was to set up poaching of three Congress leaders as instructed by BJP’s national president Amit Shah during his visit on 12th February. PM Modi’s Gujarat visit on 4th & 5th March sealed this plan as well as expansion of ministry to accommodate newly poached Congress legislators. CM Vijay Rupani was duly instructed. 

Within 3 hours of resignation as Congress legislator, Jawahar Chavda joined BJP and in 27 hours he was made a minister. On jumping ship Chavda said bizarrely:” I didn’t have a problem in Congress, it’s just like going to a new restaurant for dinner. Same as journalists changing job from one channel to another, I too came to a new party. I haven’t cheated public mandate and I will work to protect public interest in new party”. (Whatever that means)

Jayesh Radadia, a BJP minister and son of another turncoat leader Vitthal Radadia, is a friend of Jawahar Chavda and is a key player in poaching of Jawahar Chavda. Both have been friends from their Congress days. 

BJP’s Vijay Rupani government now has 33% ministers who were originally Congress legislators. 7 out of 22 ministers, Kunwarji Bavalia, Jawahar Chavda, Hakubha Jadeja, Jayesh Radadia, Bachu Khabad, Parbat Patel and Jaydrath Sinh Parmar are from Congress.

5 Congress legislators are poached in 2019. Those who were facing charges as well as court cases of corruption were instructed by Amit Shah to be lured in to BJP. It would be a case in study if these these leaders were booked under various charges under a grand political design at the behest of Amit Shah or genuinely found and booked breaking law. 

Similarly 2007 saw 1 MLA, 2012 saw 11 MLAs, 3 MPs, 1 ex CM, 2018 saw 14 MLas and 1 MP defected from Congress and join BJP in Gujarat. 

After much up and down Gujarat’s Rupani government underwent an expansion on eve of general election. Jawahar Chavda, Yogesh Patel, Dharmendrasinh Sinh Jadeja took oath as ministers. None of the three were allotted ministerial portfolios but after being sworn in they had a closed door meeting with CM Rupani. Many BJP leaders and workers were upset because of parachuted Congress leaders were made straight Cabinet Ministers.

9th March Black Friday indicated clearly Gujarat’s political direction where ideology and values are sidelined in favour of power politics. 

The newly restructured Gujarat government now has 9 ministers from Saurashtra. Important to note that Saurashtra was a region where BJP took a serious drubbing at the hustings during Gujarat elections 2017. 

Let’s have a bird’s eye view of Gujarat’s politics after the poaching.

Sanand: BJP legislator Kanu Karamshi Patel went straight to CM’s residence to protest.

Keshod: 6 term MLA Keshubhai Nakrani and his supporters vehemently protested in Gandhinagar about parachuted Congress leaders being made ministers. 

Godhra: 14 Congress MLAs revolted during the famous RS elections. Out of them 8 were given tickets by BJP. Hakubha Jadeja from this lot became minister so his rival Godhra legislator CK Raolji was upset and protested strongly. He has been calmed down with a promise of Lok Sabha ticket from Panchmahal. 

Panchmahal: Promise of ticket to legislator CK Raolji has upset sitting MP Prabhat Sinh Chauhan. Chauhan has threatened BJP of dire consequences if his ticket is given to Raolji. (Mexican Standoff)

Amreli: State Opposition Leader Paresh Dhanani’s home turf Amreli has been targeted by BJP for quite a while. The BJP gampeplan is to breakaway as many Congress local leaders as possible. This was evident in Savarkundla Farm Produce Committee’s meeting. Local Congress leaders were heard dissenting that Amreli District Congress has become PVC (Paresh Dhanani Virji Thumar Congress) They accused PVC for corrosion in Congress. 

Vadgam: Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani declared that if Hardik Patel contests election from any party other than BJP, then he would support him. 

Jamnagar: BJP MP Poonam Madam’s uncle and former Congress MP Vikram Madam supports Hardik Patel. BJP recently inducted cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba in BJP and was planning to give ticket to her.  But now Hardik Patel’s decision to join Congress has scuttled BJP’s plan. BJP is forced to repeat Poonam Madam and making turncoat Hakubha Jadeja minister. Uncle Vikram Madam (INC) and niece Poonam Madam  (BJP) have a tacit understanding of not contesting against each other. 

Savarkundla: Savarkundla Taluka Panchayat is under Congress belt. BJP has been chipping away at this Congress dominance luring 5 members there. 

Junagadh (Saurashtra Caste Equation): To capture Ahir caste votes in Saurashtra, BJP poached Jawahar Chavda from Congress. Chavda is third richest MLA in Gujarat with Rs 100 crores assets. Chavda’s family has been funding Congress since ’70s. Jawaahr’s father Pethalji Chavda was former Union Minister and Ex CM Madhav Sinh Solanki’s friend. Pethalji Chavda was a tall Ahir leader. BJP had only one Ahir leader and the too in Kutch, Vasan Ahir.  Now with inclusion of Jawahar Chavda, BJP is aiming to have a grip on a significant Ahir caste’s votes. After Koli, it is now Ahir caste in BJP’s radar. Congress had 4 Ahir leaders from Saurashtra. BJP had traditionally ignored Ahirs despite a dominant numberbut is now mending ways. To target 7 Saurashtra Parliamentary seats. 

Halvad: BJP poached Halvad’s Congress legislator Parsottam Sabariya. Sabariya is an industrialist and has visited most countries in the world. Sabariya’s business partners were summoned to local police stations and harassed to either quit business partnership with Sabariya or convince him to join BJP using pressure tactics. BJP’s another Koli leader and cabinet minister out on bail is said to have played a key role in poaching of Sabariya. 

Porbandar: BJP floated a strong rumour few months ago that Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia was joining BJP which Modhwadia had rubbished. Morbi’s Congress legislator Brijesh Merja too was rumoured to be joining BJP which he had rejected. These two leaders became target of a vicious campaign by BJP in Gujarat. 

Surendranagar: Similarly another rumour was spread by BJP that Surendranagar’s strong Congress leader Soma Ganda Patel (Koli) too was joining BJP. Soma Ganda Patel criticised BJP for false rumour mongering and said that he was a rival of Kunwarji Bavali even when he was in Congress and now that Bavalia has joined BJP, he will never be with him. Soma Ganda Patel is on BJP hit list ever since he spoke about Jashodaben. 

Ahmedabad: Alpesh Thakur has been involved in many controversies amidst a strong possibility of defecting to BJP but as of now Thakor is staying put and put aside rumours of him or his wife joining BJP. 

10 more Congress legislators were approached by BJP including Jamjodhpur MLA Chirag Patel, Morb’s Brijesh Merja, Lalit Kagathara, Patan’s Kirit Patel. All 10 rejected the offers. Recently poached Koli leader Kunwarji Bavalia has been assigned with responsibility of poaching more Congress leaders. 

Gujarat BJP’s own leader accused Railway Minister Piyush Goyal of Rs 200 crore corruption

Gujarat BJP’s own leader accused Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal of Rs 200 crores corruption and that’s the reason behind poaching Congress legislator Dr Ashaben Patel. Recently Gujarat Congress legislator Dr Ashaben Patel defected to BJP in haste. 

BJP insiders revealed that Unjha’s former BJP legislator Naran Patel wrote a letter to Modi Govt at centre alleging corruption of Rs 200 crores in land buying for new railway station for Unjha and threatened to launch agitation if the project goes ahead. Naran Patel directly accused Piyush Goyal of corruption.  Naran Patel was about to launch agitation on 17th February.

So BJP took an overnight decision to curtail their own leader’s career by bringing in his Congress rival Ashaben Patel at any cost. Sources say Naran Patel committed a cardinal crime by pointing a finger at party’s own minister and demanding inquiry.  

Naran Patel  had asked a question in his letter that Unjha’s old station had enough land available for expansion ithen why it was moved and new land bought. He pointed out drop in  railway income because of this controversial decision. NNaran Patel elaborated lack of facilities in new station and the fact that hardly 10% express trains stop at Unjha. 

Delhi explained that Mehsana & Unjha stations were moved due to Delhi Mumbai Dedicated Freight Corridor. But the fact is local businesses, politicians and people have been protesting the move. BJP’s own local party unit is against the project and threatening agitation. 

Unjha is falls in Modi’s hometown Vadnagar constituency and people accuse the government of injustice meted out in PM’s own backyard. 

Hardik Patel’s Summersault from Congress to Help BJP?

The latest surprising BJP ally in Gujarat is Hardik Patel. Yes the same Hardik Patel who was the strongest anti BJP voice in 2017 assembly elections. 

‘There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics’. True to this saying, Hardik Patel has decided to help BJP behind the scenes. For this, Hardik Patel is joining hands with Shankar Sinh Vaghela and NCP. An announcement is very likely soon. Vaghela who quit Congress before 2017 elections, attacks BJP openly now but his strategic usefulness is the old tried and tested formula of splitting votes by Modi-Shah. Acting as B-Team of BJP, Vaghela will help make sure crumbling BJP votes don’t go to Congress. Vaghela speaks against BJP but it’s a known fact that any third party in Gujarat ultimately helps BJP in elections.  

Vaghela is likely to join NCP soon. His son Mahendra Sinh too quit BJP couple of months ago. Mahendra Sinh was reportedly considering joining NCP at the time and has been involved in backchannel talks with the party. Both father and son know very well Shankar Sinh’s Jan Vikalp Party didn’t fare well in 2017 elections and they need a better table as well as funds. Vaghela for now is demanding 6 seats. If he gets them, obviously Congress will be 6 less which Congress isn’t ready to. 

On the other hand BJP knows Vaghela is a spent force so they needed another strong vote splitter. Hardik Patel has proven his mettle damaging BJP in 2017 elections. So now Hardik Patel has been slowly convinced to be a pawn in the larger game of polling. Hardik has had a series of meetings with NCP leaders which he has been denying. But then he always denied meeting Rahul Gandhi too before 2017 poll. Congress did get Hardik Patel’s help in 2017 and gave tickets to names Hardik presented. But gradually Hardik’s demands are increasing. Hardik wanted 12 tickets in MP which Congress refused. This resulted in distance between Hardik and Congress. So now Hardik Patel is pitted against Congress. Hardik’s closeness with Congress resulted in many of his previous Patidar agitation allies deserting him 

Now Hardik Patel is ready to unveil his new game plan where he along with Vaghela will oppose BJP openly. But, will field Parliamentary candidates and hurt Congress. An indication of this is Hardik Patel’s moving residence. Hardik is vacating his Ahmedabad bungalow and shifting in to Shankar Sinh Vaghela’s son Bharat Sinh’s Gandhinagar bungalow. The bungalow is being prepared and Bharat Sinh’s name plate will be replaced with Chhatrapati Niwas (Hardik Patel)

This latest summersault of Hardik will definitely surprise and upset his supporters. But, most leaders of last major agitation in Gujarat (Navnirman Students Agitation) were accommodated in Govt later. Most agitations begin with good intentions about reforms but as soon as popularity and its benefits surface, leaders of movements become victims of greed and get lured in to political gamesmanship. Hardik Patel is no exception.