Not Tire, Not Re­tire!

Shankers­ingh Vaghela’s Jan­vikalp Mor­cha would def­i­nitely give sleep­less nights to the grand old party as it would eat into anti-BJP votes in com­ing Gu­jarat Assem­bly Polls


The 77-year old Shankarsinh Vaghela is now out on a statewide cam­paign tour for his new po­lit­i­cal baby, Jan­vikalp, in Gu­jarat. He has been vis­it­ing tem­ple sand shrines, hold­ing meet­ings with lo­cal lead­ers and in­ter­act­ing with me­dia for­mally and in­for­mally since he started his cam­paign on Septem­ber 21. Huge hoard­ings have come up all over Gu­jarat show­ing that peo­ple wanted him as an al­ter­nate (ob­vi­ously as CM of Gu­jarat).

His new po­lit­i­cal ven­ture af­ter be­ing as­so­ci­ated with BJP and Congress in his 50-year long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer has added a new force in the pol­i­tics of Gu­jarat which is due fort Assem­bly elec­tions in De­cem­ber this year. Right from com­mon man to po­lit­i­cal pun­dits are abuzz with ques­tions po­lit­i­cal fate of Vaghela and his Jan­vikalp.

De­spite dif­fer­ing views one thing is clear that he has made peo­ple think about third force in Gu­jarat. It is also an es­tab­lished fact that third front ex­per­i­ments have been short lived in Gu­jarat. This in­cludes Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), a break away party Vaghela had launched af­ter his­toric re­volt in the BJP in Gu­jarat in 1996. It was a vertical split in the rul­ing BJP some­thing no one could imag­ine.

This time he has launched Jan­vikalp af­ter en­gi­neer­ing coup in Congress in which 14 sit­ting MLAs quit the party. Many more would have gone, but for the fire­fight­ing op­er­a­tions by Congress lead­er­ship. It put the Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber­ship of Ahmed Pa­tel at stake as he was seek­ing re elec­tion to RS. Vaghela pop­u­larly called Bapu was leader of Op­po­si­tion in the Assem­bly. The rebels in­cluded Vaghela and his son Ma­hen­dras­inh.

He has been scout­ing for right “like­minded” peo­ple who, ac­cord­ing to him want to serve peo­ple and not to grab power. It is to be seen how he suc­ceeds in his pro­claimed mis­sion. Presently, he is work­ing solely on his charis­matic per­son­al­ity and or­a­tory skills. He re­minds peo­ple of his days when he was Chief Min­is­ter of Gu­jarat in 1996 as leader of his RJP. It’s a very long pe­riod to en­cash today.

His sup­port­ers of that time ei­ther joined Congress with him or re­turned to BJP. MLAs who quit Congress with him this year have joined BJP. Only his son is with him. Ear­lier he used to say that Ma­hen­dras­inh was ma­ture and would de­cide on his own. How­ever, on Septem­ber 24 he an­nounced that his son would not join BJP.

Such an an­nounce­ment was pre­dictable. Peo­ple were ques­tion­ing ra­tio­nale of Jan­vikalp of Vaghela when his own son was set to join BJP. How­ever, many now have an im­pres­sion that Vaghela was forc­ing his son to be with him. With all this, it is clear that Vaghela has to start afresh with heavy beg­gage of his 50-year long ca­reer in which he switched par­ties and con­spired coups.

He claims that he is a clean politi­cian with no lust for power while dub­bing other politi­cians power hun­gry and power ori­ented. But his 1996 re­volt in BJP and 2017 coup in Congress both be­lie his claim. Both were to be­come Chief Min­is­ter. For Congress Vaghela is B team of BJP. On the day he launched Jan­vikalp, Congress in-charge Gu­jarat Ashok Gehlot said that through Jan­vikalp BJP wanted to di­vide anti-BJP votes which were to come

in the bal­lot box of Congress. This has put Vaghela in a de­nial mode.

Dharam­pal Chaud­hary a con­fi­dant of Vaghela who is with him for last 30 year and is ac­com­pa­ny­ing him on his statewide tour says that Vaghela is ex­pos­ing gov­ern­ment and so the charge of B team is wrong. Re­gard­ing Vaghela’s vis­its to tem­ples he says this be­ing Navra­tri time lots of peo­ple can be ap­proached. Be­sides, he says, Hin­dus are not happy with BJP but will not vote for Congress. Dur­ing talks they show their will­ing­ness to vote for him. In­ter­est­ingly, some Brah­min lead­ers are also with Shankarsinh Vaghela in his cam­paign. Chaud­hary says on the same ground Mus­lims are favour­ing Vaghela.

BJP is silent on Jan­vikalp. BJP is known to reel out re­ac­tions against Congress even with­out any provo­ca­tion. This fur­ther sup­ports B team the­ory of Congress. His sup­porter MLAs join­ing BJP and he him­self get­ting grand wel­come by none other than Chief Min­is­ter Vi­jay Ru­pani, Deputy CM Nitin Pa­tel and other BJP lead­ers when he re­signed as MLAs are other in­stances for B team the­ory.

When con­tacted BJP spokesper­son Bharat Pandya said, “In democ­racy every­one is free to have his views and even po­lit­i­cal party and so Shankarsin­hji. It is a known fact that peo­ple of Gu­jarat have never ac­cepted third front and so the ex­per­i­ment of Jan­vikalp will not be suc­cess­ful”. “How could he be B team when he is at­tack­ing BJP gov­ern­ment?, Pandya poses a ques­tion.

How­ever, Congress spokesper­son Jayra­js­inh Par­mar has quite pen­e­trat­ing views about Jan­vikalp and its as­so­ci­a­tion with BJP. He says that the sites on which Jan­vikalp has its hoard­ing ba­si­cally BJP sites as be­fore Jan­vikalp these sites had BJP ads. He says that Vaghela had said on record that Jan­vikalp was a small group of pro­fes­sion­als from dif­fer­ent field like IT. From where this new born and least known or­ga­ni­za­tion is get­ting funds, he asks.

What is more, he says, BJP gov­ern­ment is cre­at­ing all kind of hur­dles in Congress pro­grammes in­clud­ing that of its vi­cepres­i­dent whose ve­hi­cle was at­tacked in July this year. But Vaghela has smooth sail­ing, he won­ders.

There is an in­ter­est­ing view in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles. Those who know Vaghela well think that he was not cut to play B team. He will ditch even BJP and emerge King Maker with 30-40 seats. But presently Jan­vikalp is in the do­main of pos­si­bil­i­ties and spec­u­la­tions. Only De­cem­ber will open cards in Gu­jarat pol­i­tics.

Congress Vice Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi meet­ing trader com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Jam­na­gar

BJP Pres­i­dent Amit Shah in Gu­jrat Vi­jayviswa Sam­me­lan

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