In a major blow to the Congress in poll-bound Gujarat, the party’s former Deputy Chief Minister and senior leader Narhari Amin crossed over to the BJP on Thursday.
The move by Amin, a popular leader with a strong mass base, came after he was denied a ticket to contest the upcoming Assembly polls. Besides, several of his staunch loyalists had failed to make it to the candidates’ list. Amin’s entry into the BJP, meanwhile, is expected to boost the party’s prospects in the Saurashtra region where former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who quit the saffron party to float his own Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), is giving a tough fight to the BJP.
Like Keshubhai, Amin too belongs to the politically influential Patel community, and commands a sizeable following among them. Amin’s supporters, including the Ahemdabad city Congress chief Pankaj Shah, have already resigned from their party posts. And two of the party’s sitting MLAs have filed nominations as independent candidates to protest against the shabby treatment meted out to Amin by the Congress party.
Reflecting on the significance of Amin’s entry into the BJP fold, Chief Minister Narendra Modi said, “He is a leader who has remained with the people to serve them since his youth. Amin’s entry (into the BJP) will strengthen democracy.”
And Amin returned the compliment saying, “Gujarat is the number one state in the country. Modi is set to become CM for a third time. Forget 2012, look at 2014”--virtually endorsing Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate.
Earlier, the Congress top brass had made a last-ditch attempt to mend fences with Amin by sending Union Minister of State (MoS) Rajiv Shukla to mollify the former on Saturday. However, the talks fell through as Amin and nearly 150 of his supporters by then had already decided to switch allegiance to the saffron party.
The talk among the local Congressmen, though, is that the vicious infighting in the party’s Gujarat unit had resulted in the veteran leader’s unceremonious exit. Moreover, they believe that it might be a while before the state Congress could recover from Amin’s decision to sever his ties with the GOP.