After six Congress MLAs in Gujarat state have somersaulted and joined the BJP, the political scenario is fast changing in the state as Ahmed patel – political secretary of Congress President Sonia Gandhi faces a tough fight for Rajya Sabha seat. RS election will be held on 8th August. According to sources, more Congress MLAs, who are seen as staunch supporters of Vaghela, are likely to resign before the RS polls. It may include Vaghela’s MLA son Mahendrasinh and another close aide Raghavji Patel among others.
Ahmed Patel, political secretary to All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi, needs at least 46 votes of the now total of 54 Congress MLAs. A defeat for Ahmed Patel will not just dent his party’s morale, but will also politically diminish the Congress and its Gandhis further in Gujarat ahead of assembly polls this year and the 2019 national election. But it looks like that he may cross this ordeal and win the RS seat as JD (U) MLA Vasava has announced that he will vote for Patel. Another breather for him that BJP MLA Kotadia may also vote for him.
Ahmed Patel was in dark about some bitter ground realities based on the feedback from GPCC leaders. The five state leaders who have played musical chairs amongst themselves for various positions include Bharatsinh Solanki, Arjun Modhwadia, Shaktisinh Gohil and Siddharth Patel. Shankersinh Vaghela was also a part of this Pandava group but has now moved out. “This group is primarily responsible for misleading Ahmed Patel. Their action is not intentional but they are completely cut off from the grassroots, except Shankersinh Vaghela and Shaktisinh Gohil, all others — Bharatsinh Solanki, Arjun Modhwadia and Siddharth Patel lost their last Assembly election even. Ahmed Patel largely depends on them and goes by their political feedback. perhaps it was his mistake which put him fix now at this RS seat battle.
Bawantsinh Rajput was close to Ahmed Patel, and today he has become a threat to Patel for RS. A close aide of Ahmed Patel, Balwantsinh Rajput was preferred as chief whip of the party over various senior leaders. It is said that Rajput was pitched as chief whip because in 2012 he had defeated sitting BJP minister Jaynarayan Vyas from Siddhpur. Rajput, the giant killer, was pitched for the post by Ahmed Patel and Patel prevailed over others.
Patel also helped Rajput become the biggest supplier of edible oils to the Indian Army and other government agencies. Party insiders say that during the UPA term, it was Patel who helped Rajput bag these orders.
In 2012, Rajput was one of the richest MLAs elected, with assets of Rs 269 crore and a liability of Rs 52 crore. Rajput is related to Shankersinh Vaghela. His son is married to Mahendrasinh Vaghela’s daughter. Mahendrasinh is the MLA from Bayad and Shankersinh’s son.
Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior journalist based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.