9th March was an important day in Gujarat’s politics. On this ‘Black Friday’ Gujarat witnessed a political storm. Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani’s brief was to set up poaching of three Congress leaders as instructed by BJP’s national president Amit Shah during his visit on 12th February. PM Modi’s Gujarat visit on 4th & 5th March sealed this plan as well as expansion of ministry to accommodate newly poached Congress legislators. CM Vijay Rupani was duly instructed.
Within 3 hours of resignation as Congress legislator, Jawahar Chavda joined BJP and in 27 hours he was made a minister. On jumping ship Chavda said bizarrely:” I didn’t have a problem in Congress, it’s just like going to a new restaurant for dinner. Same as journalists changing job from one channel to another, I too came to a new party. I haven’t cheated public mandate and I will work to protect public interest in new party”. (Whatever that means)
Jayesh Radadia, a BJP minister and son of another turncoat leader Vitthal Radadia, is a friend of Jawahar Chavda and is a key player in poaching of Jawahar Chavda. Both have been friends from their Congress days.
BJP’s Vijay Rupani government now has 33% ministers who were originally Congress legislators. 7 out of 22 ministers, Kunwarji Bavalia, Jawahar Chavda, Hakubha Jadeja, Jayesh Radadia, Bachu Khabad, Parbat Patel and Jaydrath Sinh Parmar are from Congress.
5 Congress legislators are poached in 2019. Those who were facing charges as well as court cases of corruption were instructed by Amit Shah to be lured in to BJP. It would be a case in study if these these leaders were booked under various charges under a grand political design at the behest of Amit Shah or genuinely found and booked breaking law.
Similarly 2007 saw 1 MLA, 2012 saw 11 MLAs, 3 MPs, 1 ex CM, 2018 saw 14 MLas and 1 MP defected from Congress and join BJP in Gujarat.
After much up and down Gujarat’s Rupani government underwent an expansion on eve of general election. Jawahar Chavda, Yogesh Patel, Dharmendrasinh Sinh Jadeja took oath as ministers. None of the three were allotted ministerial portfolios but after being sworn in they had a closed door meeting with CM Rupani. Many BJP leaders and workers were upset because of parachuted Congress leaders were made straight Cabinet Ministers.
9th March Black Friday indicated clearly Gujarat’s political direction where ideology and values are sidelined in favour of power politics.
The newly restructured Gujarat government now has 9 ministers from Saurashtra. Important to note that Saurashtra was a region where BJP took a serious drubbing at the hustings during Gujarat elections 2017.
Let’s have a bird’s eye view of Gujarat’s politics after the poaching.
Sanand: BJP legislator Kanu Karamshi Patel went straight to CM’s residence to protest.
Keshod: 6 term MLA Keshubhai Nakrani and his supporters vehemently protested in Gandhinagar about parachuted Congress leaders being made ministers.
Godhra: 14 Congress MLAs revolted during the famous RS elections. Out of them 8 were given tickets by BJP. Hakubha Jadeja from this lot became minister so his rival Godhra legislator CK Raolji was upset and protested strongly. He has been calmed down with a promise of Lok Sabha ticket from Panchmahal.
Panchmahal: Promise of ticket to legislator CK Raolji has upset sitting MP Prabhat Sinh Chauhan. Chauhan has threatened BJP of dire consequences if his ticket is given to Raolji. (Mexican Standoff)
Amreli: State Opposition Leader Paresh Dhanani’s home turf Amreli has been targeted by BJP for quite a while. The BJP gampeplan is to breakaway as many Congress local leaders as possible. This was evident in Savarkundla Farm Produce Committee’s meeting. Local Congress leaders were heard dissenting that Amreli District Congress has become PVC (Paresh Dhanani Virji Thumar Congress) They accused PVC for corrosion in Congress.
Vadgam: Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani declared that if Hardik Patel contests election from any party other than BJP, then he would support him.
Jamnagar: BJP MP Poonam Madam’s uncle and former Congress MP Vikram Madam supports Hardik Patel. BJP recently inducted cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba in BJP and was planning to give ticket to her. But now Hardik Patel’s decision to join Congress has scuttled BJP’s plan. BJP is forced to repeat Poonam Madam and making turncoat Hakubha Jadeja minister. Uncle Vikram Madam (INC) and niece Poonam Madam (BJP) have a tacit understanding of not contesting against each other.
Savarkundla: Savarkundla Taluka Panchayat is under Congress belt. BJP has been chipping away at this Congress dominance luring 5 members there.
Junagadh (Saurashtra Caste Equation): To capture Ahir caste votes in Saurashtra, BJP poached Jawahar Chavda from Congress. Chavda is third richest MLA in Gujarat with Rs 100 crores assets. Chavda’s family has been funding Congress since ’70s. Jawaahr’s father Pethalji Chavda was former Union Minister and Ex CM Madhav Sinh Solanki’s friend. Pethalji Chavda was a tall Ahir leader. BJP had only one Ahir leader and the too in Kutch, Vasan Ahir. Now with inclusion of Jawahar Chavda, BJP is aiming to have a grip on a significant Ahir caste’s votes. After Koli, it is now Ahir caste in BJP’s radar. Congress had 4 Ahir leaders from Saurashtra. BJP had traditionally ignored Ahirs despite a dominant numberbut is now mending ways. To target 7 Saurashtra Parliamentary seats.
Halvad: BJP poached Halvad’s Congress legislator Parsottam Sabariya. Sabariya is an industrialist and has visited most countries in the world. Sabariya’s business partners were summoned to local police stations and harassed to either quit business partnership with Sabariya or convince him to join BJP using pressure tactics. BJP’s another Koli leader and cabinet minister out on bail is said to have played a key role in poaching of Sabariya.
Porbandar: BJP floated a strong rumour few months ago that Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia was joining BJP which Modhwadia had rubbished. Morbi’s Congress legislator Brijesh Merja too was rumoured to be joining BJP which he had rejected. These two leaders became target of a vicious campaign by BJP in Gujarat.
Surendranagar: Similarly another rumour was spread by BJP that Surendranagar’s strong Congress leader Soma Ganda Patel (Koli) too was joining BJP. Soma Ganda Patel criticised BJP for false rumour mongering and said that he was a rival of Kunwarji Bavali even when he was in Congress and now that Bavalia has joined BJP, he will never be with him. Soma Ganda Patel is on BJP hit list ever since he spoke about Jashodaben.
Ahmedabad: Alpesh Thakur has been involved in many controversies amidst a strong possibility of defecting to BJP but as of now Thakor is staying put and put aside rumours of him or his wife joining BJP.
10 more Congress legislators were approached by BJP including Jamjodhpur MLA Chirag Patel, Morb’s Brijesh Merja, Lalit Kagathara, Patan’s Kirit Patel. All 10 rejected the offers. Recently poached Koli leader Kunwarji Bavalia has been assigned with responsibility of poaching more Congress leaders.