VENKATESH KESARI | 10 AUGUST, 2017
What Ahmed Patel's Victory in Gujarat means for both BJP and Congress
NEW DELHI: Congress leader Ahmed Patel's victory in the Rajya Sabha elections against all odds is a bad omen for the BJP ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections.
While it has boosted the morale of the Congress workers,it has also made Patel a 'fighter' who checked the BJP chief Amit Shah's plan to defeat him through rebellion and the resignation of the Congress legislators.
A former Union minister of the Congress who had worked with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi said that the BJP's countdown has begun from the Gujarat polls. "Now you will see how the BJP will see rebellion in the coming assembly elections in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh", he told The Citizen.
Although the Congress and Ahmed Patel could not make a dent among the BJP MLAs and retained the seat merely on technical grounds, the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election for three seats was seen as a fight between the Congress chief 's trouble shooter and the BJP supremo, the most powerful person after Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And hence,the poll outcome has put a question mark on the skill of ruling party's managers.
Ironically this was so done by the BJP itself, as every dirty trick was used by the party to defeat Patel and bring down the Congress numbers in the Assembly through resignations, defections and rebellion. The Congress had publicly accused Shah and the BJP of engineering these.
The results have also isolated Congress rebel leader Shankarsinh Vaghela and his handful of supporters in the state Assembly and exposed the fence sitters. Now,they will find it difficult to create a credible third front in the state . Multi cornered contests always help the saffron party.
Now,the Congress, morale boosted with this victory, plans to be more aggressive in the coming Gujarat elections and try to fan dissidence in the ruling BJP, particularly amongst the legislators who are unsure of being renominated.
Barring Delhi and Bihar, Amit Shah has never tested defeat.But the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections showed that the Congress can checkmate BJP's " Chanakyas", despite a campaign carried out by the ruling party on the media channels and in newspapers that had gone along with Shah indiscriminately on this issue.
Politically,it has made Ahmed Patel stronger as well, more so as he fought back largely on his own, with senior party leaders emerging only in the last days to visit the Election Commission on the matter of disqualification of two of its MLAs. Unlike the BJP where Shah was assisted by others in the party, Patel seemed to be fairly isolated at one point during the poll campaign.