In Gujarat, the embarassments continue for Congress, BJP

Virendra Pandit Gandhinagar | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 15, 2017

With Assembly elections due in Gujarat later this year, both the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress Party are facing piquant situations on a weekly basis: the latest to hit them are Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s younger brother Prahlad threatening to launch a state-wide strike on the fair price shops issue, and veteran Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela “unfollowing” all party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, on social media networks.

On Sunday, Prahlad issued an “ultimatum” to the Gujarat Government to meet the demands of fair price shop owners or face their indefinite strike from May 28. Their demands include subsidised rented shops, sale of LNG under UJALA scheme and financial assistance to their wards for higher education. “The BJP is waiting for the PM to intervene as his younger brother is involved here," said a party source.

Earlier also, Prahlad, who owns a fair price shop in Ahmedabad and is the Vice President of All India Fair Price Shops’ Federation, had criticised the BJP-led NDA Government led by his elder brother, putting the ruling party leadership on the mat.

Vaghela, who is Leader of the Opposition in Vidhan Sabha but giving sleepless nights to his own faction-ridden party, sprung yet another surprise on Sunday. His social media manager Parthesh Patel said the Bapu instructed him to “unfollow” all the party leaders, including Vice President Rahul Gandhi, and delete all his political tweets from his official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Circle.

The latest move from the Congress party’s tallest and most popular leader with a mass base triggered all kinds of rumours about his next move and political future. In the recent past, when BJP President Amit Shah and CM Vijay Rupani called on him in his Assembly office, speculation was rife that he might be “accommodated” by the BJP as a state’s Governor and his son, Mahendrasinh, Congress MLA, could be offered a BJP ticket in the coming polls. Similar speculation are rife about former CM Anandiben Patel and her children.

The 77-year-old former Gujarat CM, who once mentored Modi in the BJP, has been flip-flopping since the last few months. Recently, he even left mid-way a meeting of Gujarat Congress leaders in New Delhi, called by Rahul Gandhi, and skipped recent party programmes and meetings called by GPCC chief Bharatsinh Solanki.

On Sunday, he even hinted to reporters that he did not want to contest either the Lok Sabha or the Vidhan Sabha polls any more and would “work for the good of the people”.

But his followers, as clueless as anybody else about the Bapu’s next move, hold the BJP responsible for “misinformation” against him in order to make him “suspect” in the Congress party.

Mahendrasinh later feigned ignorance about why his father “unfollowed” party leaders. “He just wants to serve the people.”

Published on May 15, 2017
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