Ahmedabad: Leaders being dissatisfied over not getting election tickets is not a new thing, but this is perhaps the first time that the BJP is facing such a large-scale rebellion in Gujarat, which goes to polls on December 1 and December 5. .
In Gujarat, where the BJP is hoping to win a seventh consecutive term, the general trend has been for party leaders to accept the high command’s decisions without question. After all, it is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah. But this time there are signs of rebellion within the party in at least 12 seats.
The real crisis began when the BJP released the first two lists of party candidates—166 out of 182—earlier this month. In this, apart from five ministers of Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s cabinet, the party had denied tickets to 42 sitting MLAs including Assembly Speaker Nimaben Acharya. Apart from this, many of those who got tickets are from the Congress.
Wednesday was the last date for filing papers for the first phase of voting in the state and by then this wave of discontent had spread completely at the state BJP office in Gandhinagar, Sri Kamalam. Dissatisfied cadres gathered here and registered their objection in one voice regarding the selection of some candidates. Angry workers of Surat also raised slogans here on Tuesday over the denial of ticket to the sitting MLA of Chorayasi constituency in the district.
The party says that ‘winnability’ has been considered the most important qualification in the selection of candidates, and some of those who were not considered worthy have filed as independent candidates.
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Among them is Madhu Srivastava, a six-time MLA from Waghodia, who told ThePrint that the BJP had “sacrificed” him. Tribal leader Harshad Vasava will contest from the Nandod (reserved) seat, which was earlier known as Rajpipla. Vasava has been MLA twice from here.
Such a candidate is considered a big challenge for the BJP, which faced a similar problem in Himachal Pradesh. There were 21 rebels of the party in the field at the time of polling last Saturday.
The party is now in damage control mode in Gujarat. In this sequence, state minister Harsh Shanghvi was sent to Vadodara last week, where voices of discontent are rising in many places. However, he did not get any special success in stopping the rebellion. Home Minister Amit Shah himself also reached Gandhinagar this week and reportedly tried to pacify the angry leaders. But will this initiative of his be successful, it will be known only after some time.
If we talk about Himachal, even the Prime Minister’s phone call did not prove to be enough to persuade former MP Kirpal Parmar and he remained in the fray as an independent.
Though office-bearers of the BJP’s Gujarat unit say the situation in the state has not reached an alarming level, other leaders have given tickets to them on the basis of lack of strong leadership and defectors from the Congress, based on their ‘winnability’ Raising serious questions about the ‘culture’ of going. At the same time, experts also claim that the politics of casteism can further incite discontent within the party.
Let us take a look here at the rebellion of some high-profile leaders and the efforts being made by the party to control them. And also try to find out from political observers what other reasons could be behind the spread of discontent in the usually disciplined Gujarat cadre.
Why did discontent flare up in Vadodara?
The district where maximum uproar has been created in the matter of dissatisfaction of the leaders is Vadodara only. Waghodia MLA Madhu Srivastava has publicly opened the front, replacing him and fielding district unit president Ashwin Patel.
A land developer, film actor and popular Bahubali Madhu Srivastava has quit the party and announced to contest as an independent candidate.
He told ThePrint, “A few days ago, a senior leader called me and said they wanted to field a Patidar leader. I come from North Indian background and that’s why they sacrificed me. Those who made me an MLA are now pressurizing me to contest elections.
There are some reasons for the BJP to be nervous here. Srivastava has been an MLA from Waghodia since 1995, when he won as an independent candidate for the first time. He and other independents also played a key role in bringing down the Suresh Mehta-led BJP government in 1996.
He said, ‘At that time, senior BJP leaders requested me to join the party and since then I remained with them. I have good relations with PM Modi, but the workers are angry with this decision. That’s why I will fight, I am a man’s child.
Srivastava refused to meet state minister Harsh Sanghvi, who was sent by the high command to Vadodara to quell the rebellion.
Other disgruntled leaders from Vadodara who refused to attend the damage-control meeting with Sanghvi and her accompanying state BJP general secretary Bhargav Bhatt include Dinesh ‘Dinu Mama’ Patel and Satish Nishaliya, former MLAs from Padra and Karjan respectively Huh.
Dinesh Patel, president of Baroda Dairy, has announced to contest as an independent from Padra. His displeasure is about the fact that the BJP has elected Padra Municipal Councilor Chaitanya Singh Zala, who has been a staunch opponent for a long time.
In Vadodara, BJP city president Vijay Bhai Shah says the party chose Zala because it wanted a Rajput candidate. However, he admitted that apart from money power, Dinu Mama also had full support of the cadre.
“He can eat into the party votes by getting more Patel votes as the other candidates (AAP and Congress) are also Rajputs,” he said.
In Karjan, the BJP has given ticket to sitting MLA Akshay Patel, who joined the party after quitting the Congress in 2020. In the 2017 elections, he defeated BJP’s Satish Patel. And Satish Patel is now upset that the party has chosen a leader ‘imported from the Congress’ in his place.
Satish Patel told ThePrint, “Party workers are angry with the growing culture of giving preference to defectors from the Congress. This time they (BJP) will be taught a lesson.
accused of ‘betrayal’
In Narmada district, former MLA Harshad Vasava has quit his post as BJP ST Morcha president and filed nomination as an independent candidate from Nandod seat, where the sitting MLA is from Congress. Vasava was elected MLA from here in 2002 and again in 2007.
With the Statue of Unity being located here, the Nandod seat has become a battle of prestige for the BJP, which has fielded Dr. Darshana Deshmukh, daughter of late former MP Chandu Deshmukh.
Vasava told ThePrint, “The party has ignored a committed worker who has given his all and strengthened it in tribal areas…the BJP has betrayed me.”
In Narmada, BJP district president Ghanshyambhai Patel said the allegation of betrayal was unfair as Vasava was given full importance in the party. He said, ‘It is not possible for everyone to get tickets.’
But this is not affecting those leaders who have been denied party tickets.
In Saurashtra, former MLA Arvind Ladani quit the party after failing to get ticket from Keshod seat, from where he was last elected in 2012. He has also announced to contest the elections as an independent.
In Surat, there is a lot of resentment over the denial of ticket to Jankhana Patel, the sitting MLA of Chorayasi constituency. She won the 2017 assembly elections with a margin of over 1.10 lakh votes, second only to Bhupendra Patel, who won by 1.17 lakh votes and is the current CM of the state. His supporters created a ruckus at the BJP office in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
It seems that Home Minister Amit Shah himself has taken over the responsibility of ending the rebellion in the midst of all this. He also held meetings with some dissident leaders, including cabinet minister and Ravpura MLA Rajendra Trivedi, at the BJP headquarters this week. Trivedi was stripped of a key ministry like revenue earlier this year.
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Debate over ‘ability to win’
However, the Gujarat unit of the BJP says that there is nothing to worry about the discontent in the state. State BJP vice-president Jayantibhai Kavadia said, “More than 4,000 people had applied for tickets, but the party cannot make everyone a candidate.” Obviously there will be some resentment. But they know that BJP is the only party in which they have a future, so they will be persuaded.
Another party vice-president of the state, Mahendrabhai S. Patel told ThePrint that ‘winnability’ is placed above all else and it is important to groom fresh faces.
He said, ‘Some leaders have been contesting elections for the last 40 years. If the elders do not retire then how will the young leaders emerge?
However, other state leaders are of the view that placing paramount on ‘winnability’ has had a negative impact on the party culture, especially in cases where recent Congress defectors have been given tickets.
In five years, around 20 Congress MLAs have left their party and joined the BJP, a senior Gujarat BJP leader told ThePrint. Then they won the bypolls (to retain their seats) and now most of them have got tickets. This is one of the main reasons why the cadres are angry that defectors have got tickets.
He further said, ‘Winnability is the most important criterion while selecting candidates in the politics of power, but it affects the party and the workers. While giving election tickets to people from other parties, those who work for the party 365 days a year have been ignored. This has increased dissatisfaction in many places.
The BJP ticket to Rajendrasinh Rathwa, son of senior tribal leader and Chhota Udepur MLA Mohansinh Rathwa, is an example of this trend. Senior Rathwa had quit the Congress this month to join the BJP and was successful in getting a ticket for his son.
Apart from this, the case of Talala’s MLA Bhaga Barad is also in front, who is a prominent Ahir leader. He left the Congress on November 9 and was given a ticket within three days of joining the BJP.
‘No guiding light’, caste equation dominates
A former BJP MP from Gujarat referred to the churning in the party over the absence of a ‘guiding light’ in the state, which has seen three chief ministers since Modi stepped down in 2014.
He said, “In the absence of a guide, the only reason for association is to share power and when there is uncertainty in it, rebellion begins.” He reminded how when leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani used to ask to work for the party keeping aside personal interests, people used to pay attention to their words. But such speeches of the current leaders seem ‘hollow’.
Gaurang Jani, professor of sociology at Gujarat University, agrees. According to him, the sudden ouster of the then Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his cabinet in September last year has not yielded the desired results.
Jani said, ‘BJP changed Chief Minister Rupani just suddenly. In such a situation, none of the MLAs and ministers is confident about their political future. They feel that BJP is doing politics of power and compromising on its ideals by bringing defectors. Now the MLAs do not want to give up their seats for the party.
He said that caste is also a big factor behind the “discontent and restlessness” of some BJP leaders.
He further said that on one hand the BJP is trying to unite all the castes ‘in the name of Hindutva’, while at the same time keeping in mind the votes, it is ‘creating one leader of that caste in each category’.
Jani said, “These leaders, created on the basis of caste, whether Ahir or Koli, now want their share in politics and since the BJP cannot give tickets to every leader, the party has to face widespread discontent.” Used to be.’
(Click here to read this news in English)
(Translation: Ravi Dwivedi)
(Editing: Rishabh Raj)
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