Stunned BJP seeks ways to counter Hardik in Gujarat

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 27, 2015

Scarred by violence Charred vehicles in Ahmedabad on Thursdaydue to violence in the aftermath of the Patel community's rally PTI

Caught unawares by the scope of — and response to — the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS)’s call for reservation for the Patel community in Gujarat, the BJP is going all out to devise an appropriate strategy to counter the massive mobilisation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State.

Party leaders held a high-level meeting was held at the PM’s residence on Wednesday night to consider the issue. They discussed the unprecedented rise of Hardik Patel as a spokesperson for a community which formed the bedrock of the BJP’s support base in Gujarat.

At a press conference at the party headquarters here on Thursday, BJP spokespersons were hard-pressed to answer questions about the Patel uprising in Gujarat. “I have just come back from Bihar. I cannot answer these questions,” said BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav.

Pan-India support

On whether gestures of support to Hardik from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD leader Lalu Prasad indicate a pan-India support for the young Patidar leader, Yadav said: “Nitish and Lalu can say anything these days to win support. They are in election mode. It does not mean anything.”

While the party has already asked its local leaders to assess the ground situation, it is stunned by the level of resentment among Patels that reflected in targeted violence against the BJP’s Patidar MLAs.

At least 10 of them faced the wrath of protesters in Ahmedabad, while maximum violence was reported from Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s constituency, Ghatlodia, and BJP president Amit Shah’s constituency, Naranpura. The feeling in the party is that after Modi’s shift to Delhi, the fissures in the Gujarat unit have widened.

The Patels had revolted against Modi too under the leadership of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who quit the BJP to form the Gujarat Parivartan Party.

Goardhan Zadaphia, Modi’s junior minister in the Home Department during the 2002 riots, too quit the party to form the Mahagujarat Janata Party. He aligned with Keshubhai to fight against the BJP in the 2012 Assembly elections in the State.

But Modi’s successive victories in the Assembly elections kept the rebellion under control. Even Keshubhai made his peace with Modi after his son Bharat joined the BJP in 2013. Zadaphia too came back to the BJP.

Rank newcomer

Now, with Modi not being able to contain Gujarat’s fractious politics, even a rank newcomer like Hardik has been able to collect a crowd of approximately 10 lakh people on the streets.

It is also a reminder to the BJP that with the exception of Modi, no Chief Minister in Gujarat has been able to complete his/her tenure in the last three decades.

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Published on August 27, 2015
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