Winners? Ahmed scrapes through, Cong loses strength, Gujarat ‘loses’ Shah to Delhi!

Virendra Pandit Rutam Vora Gandhinagar | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 09, 2017

Congress supporters celebrate Ahmed Patel's win in the Rajya Sabha elections on Wednesday. -- PTI

Although Congress veteran Ahmed Patel managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and retained his Rajya Sabha seat for a fifth time, his win may yet be pyrrhic with a severe depletion of his party’s strength in Gujarat despite its post-midnight celebrations, impending Assembly polls, and the BJP bracing to challenge his conquest in the judiciary.

Amid speculation that BJP President Amit Shah, with no major state election due in the near future, could switch places with Rajnath Singh as Home Minister in the Modi Government’s next reshuffle, and the dissolution of the Gujarat Assembly anytime now for possible mid-October elections, Patel, apparently, realises the grim challenges ahead. “It was a very difficult election, but has come as a morale booster to us. There is no factionalism now in the Congress,” he told presspersons on Wednesday.

The nail-biting finale, that stretched for some 17 long hours from 9 am on Tuesday to 2 am on Wednesday, resembled Hollywood and Bollywood tele-serial “24” with the characters running from one crisis to another on an hourly basis. Each hour was full of twists-and-turns, with wheels-within-wheels, ‘confirmation’ and retraction of votes cast, and ending in a suspense-filled pyrrhic victory. Even Patel won more because of the rejection of votes of two of his own party legislators!

In particular, Amit Shah could not retain his ‘Midas Touch’ in an election and Chanakya-image, nor could he settle scores with Patel. He had lugged all the resources at his command against Patel, whom he, apparently, saw as responsible for his troubles between 2010 and 2012, when the current BJP chief faced multiple court cases and had to cool his heels outside Gujarat on court orders. In the end, even the BJP’s win of two Rajya Sabha seats, despite a bygone conclusion, was a pyrrhic one.

The worst loser in the high-voltage political drama was, perhaps, rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who is likely to remain irrelevant at least for some time now, after a brief hyper-relevance over the last couple of months. Some of his supporters are expected to join the BJP soon, but whether the ruling party will field them as BJP candidates in the coming Vidhan Sabha elections, or accommodate them elsewhere, remains an open question.

The enormity of reverses suffered by the Congress in the edge-of-the-Rajya Sabha seats contest, could be gauged by the defection of some of those who supported Patel’s nomination, those who were still technically Congress MLAs, those who flew to Bengaluru and back to Anand, those who went ‘underground’, and those who openly rebelled. Yes, Patel lost his votes in all these categories of Congress legislators. But he also had the consolation of winning one vote each from the NCP and JD(U), that swung the result his way. In other words, Patel won more because of the decisive non-Congress votes rather than his own party’s!

The aggressive stamp of Amit Shah, and his mentor’s (PM Narendra Modi) ex-mentor Vaghela was quite visible, as was their well-honed strategy to attempt to dislodge Patel using the Congress leader’s own erstwhile protégé, Balwantsinh Rajput, against the Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Shah, a former stockbroker, seems to have put to use business strategies in electoral politics too: insider trading, dubba trading, shell companies, derivatives, hedging, hostile takeovers, etc!

But he lost in the end-game against the old warhorse of the Congress, who is seen as the crisis manager and the third tallest leader of the Grand Old Party.

In 2014, Gujarat ‘lost’ Narendra Modi to New Delhi via Varanasi. Has the state now lost Shah to the national capital via Gandhinagar?

And Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri now?

Incidentally, mega-star Amitabh Bachchan’s KBC-Season 9 is expected to hit television screens in the next few weeks!

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Published on August 09, 2017
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