“The Patidars (Patels) in Gujarat are living under the shadow of fear.” —Feb 10, at Surat
“It is time now to take up the sword.” —Apr 16, at Jamkandorna
“Dar ke aage jeet hai (beyond fear lies victory).” —May 6, at Somnath
Gujarat BJP patriarch and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel has been consistent in the delivery of such deadly top-spin serves since the beginning of this year. And on Saturday, May 13, the man who built the party in Gujarat and in 1995 became its first BJP CM let go a sizzling down-the-line volley that left the party speechless and the people somewhat puzzled.
Speaking at a Rohit community function in Ahmedabad, the BJP’s old warhorse thundered thus against the state government: “Gujarat is ruled by pindaris and thugs and people live under fear, including IAS and IPS officers.... Those who live in the hearts of the people don’t need to force-ferry crowds to their public meetings.... Power’s being used just for personal publicity.” He didn’t name Narendra Modi even once, but his remarks left nobody in doubt about the target.
Coming at a time when the party is going to town publicising the clean chit the Supreme Court-appointed sit has given Modi in the 2002 Gujarat killings, this frontal attack by Keshubhai, in the company of BJP rebel and former minister Gordhan Zadaphia, is causing considerable unease in BJP ranks. The rising belligerence of the 84-year-old leader is giving Modi anxious moments as well. Once his political aide, Modi had replaced Keshubhai as CM in October 2001.
The strategy, however, does not seem to be working this time. Like the Muslims who, post-2002 riots, flaunt their identity in their way of dressing and headgear, Patels too are doing so with a vengeance, sporting simple ‘Patidar’ stickers on their vehicles, business establishments and even homes. Massive community congregations have already been held. The presence of Bapa (revered elder) at a nine-lakh-strong Leuva Patel gathering at Khodaldham near Rajkot in January and his advice—that it is right to present the other cheek if you are wrong but slap back twice if you are in the right—earned him a standing ovation.
If empty chairs greeted Modi at a Leuva Patel function organised in Surat last month, over 60,000 people were present at a community gathering at Jamkandorna in Saurashtra two days later, where Keshubhai issued a call to arms. The simmering, anti-establishment sentiment in the over one-crore-strong community, which has a sizeable presence in 75 of the total 182 assembly constituencies, is cause for concern, with Vidhan Sabha elections due in Gujarat around December this year. With Patels figuring amongst those convicted in the Sardarpura and Ode massacres, there was, for the first time, slogan-shouting against Modi at both judgement venues.
A Brahmin community gathering Modi addressed on April 24 in Surat also attracted poor response, with only 13 of the 28 enclosures filling up and food cooked for a lakh people going abegging. This is another community, though comparatively smaller in number, which has been feeling discriminated against, following the death of Haren Pandya. Also coming to haunt Modi are the sidelining of party leaders like Nalin Bhatt, who quit; Ashok Bhatt, who was made Speaker and is now no more; Jaynarayan Vyas, who is a minister but kept on a tight leash; and among the younger lot, Bharat Pandya and Yamal Vyas. Besides, the hounding of serving officers, ranging from dgp Kuldip Sharma, his IAS officer brother Pradeep Sharma, digs Rahul Sharma and Sanjiv Bhatt, all belonging to the community, has become the subject of sms campaigns. This disaffection is having an effect. For a leader who once shunned the caste tag for wider Hindu acceptance, Modi has now regressed to addressing smaller caste gatherings of Prajapatis, Thakores, Ravals, Kolis, Chaudharys, Sonis, etc.
Long used to winning ways over a decade-long rule, Modi has already received a jolt this year, when the Congress snatched the Mansa assembly seat in Gandhinagar district after 17 years. The BJP is inclined to see it as an isolated example, but for the long-in-the-dumps Congress, it amounts to a booster dose. Earlier, the party had won the closely fought, no-holds-barred election to the prestigious municipal corporation of state capital Gandhinagar. Could Modi’s star finally be waning then?
Just a few months back, in the UP elections, Rahul Gandhi got at least 10 times more media coverage than Akhilesh Yadav, yet Akhilesh won. Sorry to burst Outlook’s bubble, no amount of maligning Modi will change the inevitable (Hourglass Sands, May 28). Keshubhai is a dead weight in Gujarat politics, he does not even have an ounce of Modi’s charisma or oratory skills.
Sahil Mehta, Ahmedabad
Without the ‘hate Modi oxygen’, the pseudo-secs will die like fish out of water.
A.K. Ghai, Mumbai
This article is nothing but wishful thinking.
Maha, New Jersey
It’s the people who choose and elect, not detractors.
Satya Shetty, Bangalore
Keshubhai can keep hoping and plotting till kingdom come. Modi isn’t going anywhere.
Michael Lopes, Mumbai
Appropos the following link posted here by one Tejas, i like the following one liners, truly hilarious.
There’s so much fear in Gujarat that Huggies is now a billion dollar industry here
There is so much fear in Gujarat that Gujaratis have started saying fear maa chhiye instead of majaamaa chhiye
There is so much fear in Gujarat that PM Manmohan Singh doesn’t even face Gujarat while sleeping
I even felt fearful while reading those one liners.,..: )
Thanks for the link. It was hilarious!!
We needlesly blame Britsh that they carried out the policy of divide and rule. Is it not a fact that we Indians, especially Hindus and that too upper caste, have always been a divided society. Be it Mughals, Turks, Arabs or Europeans they all took advantage of this fault of Hindus. Congress seems united only because it is led by a non Hindu leader. Just see what happens if you install a Hindu leader. Therefore I will not be surprised if Keshubhai or Sanjeev Bhatt, or Sarabhais, Sinhas they all gang up against Modi. After all Modi is a Indian Hindu and how dare he work well in this divided society.
namo bhagwan is great at one thing, PR.
gujarat hasnt become scam free or something. or else namo "bhagwan" wouldnt have to suspend the entire congress opposition before tabling a CAG report on irregularities like a rat.and many more similar issues. all the hallelujah from the hindutvavadi junta is because of the perception of modi being a blood-letter in 2002...let modi apologize once to the muslims, like the congress did to the sikhs.....we'll see then......the development bhajan among his bhakts was a later construct. and this man's got a huge PR machinery:
anyways, some bhakts have attempted a feeble attempt at explaining the disastrous mansa defeat. the flaw in the bhakts' logic is: a party , even if after holding a seat for 25 years, under one guy, loses it pathetically after his post-deaath polls, it goes on to show a lot as to how much the bhagwan of gujarat and his cronies have done for that constituency.............
and neither does raghavan's(SIT') "what-if-modi-did/said-so-he-is-mah-hero-and-so-innocent" exonerate modi. and as one bhakt points out, all of guj loves modi, how does that explain modi losing 1/3 seats still in his own mini hindoo rashtra????
pls visit link of desh gujarat about how people on twitter reacted to keshubhai's fear menia........which occurs when election comes...some of them are really funny
and why only negative news get space in this magazine...there are others saying positive about Namo has no spce in this magazine........point to ponder
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