BJP con­fi­dent that Pa­tel’s win will not im­pact Gu­jarat assem­bly polls

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Del h i : Congress le ader Ahmed Pa­tel scrap­ing through to vic­tory in the Ra­jya Sabha elec­tion may have come as a big per­sonal set­back for BJP chief Amit Shah but the party is not likely to suf­fer any sub­stan­tial losses as it braces for elec­toral bat­tles ahead in assem­bly polls, in­clud­ing Gu­jarat this De­cem­ber, un­der his lead­er­ship.

Shah has the rep­u­ta­tion of go­ing all out in pur­suit of his goal and has worked with the same dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion in the past that he showed in the Ra­jya Sabha elec­tions in Gu­jarat. Party lead­ers re­call how he had pressed sev­eral Union min­is­ters into the cam­paign dur­ing the Delhi assem­bly elec­tions when the party was star­ing at a rout. BJP could win only three of the 70 seats but did put up a fight. Sim­i­larly, in the Bi­har assem­bly polls in 2015, he was com­bat­ive till the last.

Shah is dif­fer­ent from con­ven­tional politi­cians who would give a cake­walk to prom­i­nent lead­ers from op­pos­ing par­ties. In 2014, it was he who pro­posed Sm­riti Irani’s name as the can­di­date from Ame­thi against Congress VP Rahul Gandhi. He had ar­guedthen­she­had­noth­ing­toloseas she­wasamem­beroftheRa­jyaSabha.

BJP is con­fi­dent that Pa­tel’s win will not im­pact the Gu­jarat as­sem- bly polls. The exit of Shankarsinh Vaghela, who now faces po­lit­i­cal obliv­ion,may­ben­e­fitCon­gressinthe long run but the party is a weak force in Gu­jarat in com­par­i­son to BJP. Shah who be­gins a new in­nings as a mem­ber of the Ra­jya Sabha, has a firmer grip on the BJP or­gan­i­sa­tion in the three years he has been party chief.Par­tyMPswill­try­to­givetheir best in Par­lia­ment un­der his watch­ful eye. Shah will also have a more free­hand­whilein­duct­ingnew­faces.

Shah’s first chal­lenge will be to in­crease BJP’s tally in the 182-mem­ber Gu­jarat assem­bly from 121. The party had won 115 seats in 2012. Pa­tel and his trusted lieu­tenant Bharatsinh Solanki have got a shot in the arm with the Ra­jya Sabha win, but the jury is out on whether Congress will in­crease its tally. Hi­machal Pradesh also goes to polls in De­cem­ber and BJP is hope­ful of de­feat­ing the Virbhadra Singh­led Congress gov­ern­ment, bank­ing on the re­ported anti-in­cum­bency against him. How­ever, assem­bly elec­tions to Kar­nataka, in early 2018, and later in MP, Ch­hat­tis­garh and Ra­jasthan will not be a walkover for BJP and Shah will have to use his strate­gis­ingskill­stoen­su­reav­ic­tory.

Since Shah con­tin­ues to en­joy the trust and con­fi­dence of PM Modi, he may not find it dif­fi­cult to take un­pleas­ant de­ci­sions like deny­ing the ticket to sev­eral sit­ting law­mak­ers in the com­ing polls. The BJP chief’s stature gets a boost with his ar­rival in the Ra­jya Sabha and he will be­come even more in­dis­pens­able for Modi. Pa­tel’s vic­tory would not take this away from Shah.

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