How Patel won
Now that Chhotubhai Amarasinhbhai Vasava has emerged the ‘mystery’ man--the 44th MLA--whose ‘outside’ vote swung the the Rajya Sabha seat in Ahmed Patel’s favour, another shadowy tale is also unraveling. It seems the 44 Congress MLAs had to be whisked away to Bangaluru’s Eagleton resort, because the rival camp nearly got hold of 23 MLAs. Not once did Amit Shah get, directly, involved though. The entire operation was left to Shankarsinh Vaghela.
Had Vaghela been the GPCC chief it could been much easier for him to engineer the split. But he was kept on the sidelines, which helped Patel woo back the MLAs. The hard fought battle also led to his son Faisal Patel’s re-emergence. The latter had withdrawn from politics after his young wife Zainab Nedou died in 2016. He may now contest the Assembly elections from Gujarat, from a safe-seat. Only one mystery remains unsolved: Did Rahul Gandhi congratulate Ahmed Patel?
Hunt for a safe seat?
As BJP is all set to go after Amethi and Rae Bareli to get the Congress president and the vice president unseated in the next Lok Sabha, the GOP working out an alternative plan. While ‘no call’ has yet been taken on whether Sonia Gandhi will contest elections in 2019 or leave the seat for her daughter, the party is already scouting a safe-seat for Rahul. Chikballarpur, Karnataka or Barpeta in Assam, represented by Congress veteran Veerappa Moily and Sirajuddin Azmal of AIUDF, are being considered. But Rahul may still need some convincing.
After Venkaiah Naidu was sworn-in Vice President on the last day of the Monsoon session, Prime Minister was in a rather genial mood. He went around shaking hands of the opposition leaders, like Congress’ Bhupinder Singh Hood and Janardhan Diwvedi. What was noticeable was the manner, he literally ignored Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, even as he chatted up with former Haryana CM.
Though PM did meet Kumar later in the formal precincts of his office and JD-U may become part of the Union Cabinet, no one missed the change of equation. The PM appeared the dominant figure in the new narrative with Kumar acting like his vassal, a recipient of grace. Meanwhile, Kumar sacked his former colleague Sharad Yadav from JD-U parliamentary party leader post. Yadav has four years to go, but Kumar may try to get him and the rebel JD-U MP, Anwar Ali, disqualified.
Is the BJP going for a generational shift in the Rajya Sabha? Well, some in the party believe, Amit Shah will not be the only new entrant to the house of Elders. BJP may give Manohar Parrikar and Anil Dave seats to Ram Madhav and Muralidhar Rao.
The vacancies were created after Parrikar shifted to Goa and Dave’s unfortunate death. Many in the ruling party feel that Madhav and Rao are being groomed as the new party strategists. And that by the winter session, Rajya Sabha may get a new leader of the house, claimed an old bête noir of the FM. The hint was, of course, Shah would take over.
The author is Political Editor,
TNIE. Email: santwana@ newindianexpress.com