The high-profile exit of Narhari Amin from Congress is a curious case in Gujarat politics. Though Amin wears many meaningful hats, he insists on being addressed as former deputy chief minister of Gujarat – a position he held two decades ago. The mercurial politician is a Leuva Patel who followed Chimanbhai Patel into Congress with Janata Party in the early ’90s. He maintained Congress’s reign over Gujarat Cricket Association for the longest time, is very active in University politics and last but not the least, is considered amongst the moneybags in Congress. Yet still, the Grand Old Party denied him a candidature to contest from either of the two seats he was eyeing – Sabarmati and Gandhinagar (south).
With some supporters, the buzz is he will join the BJP either now or after elections. However, on Tuesday evening when Amin’s resignation from the party was finally announced, the discussion amongst poll pundits was, will this benefit or hurt the Congress – or the BJP? It might not be as significant a coup for the BJP as it is made out actually, claim Cong.
In 2002, Amin contested from Sabarmati, which he lost with a margin of 59,190 votes against BJP’s Dr Jitu Patel. In 2007, he lost Matar with a margin of 7,799 votes against a young Congress turncoat Devusinh Chauhan. Over the last few weeks, Amin pulled out every political trick in the book to secure a ticket from the high command, but for once, in the words of many Congress functionaries, “the party showed some spine” by denying him ticket and four other such leaders who have lost by huge margins multiple times. First Rajeev Shukla, then BK Hariprasad and Ashok Tanwar were sent to pacify him. Amin claims to have rejected Congress’s offer of a Rajya Sabha nomination and / or a working president of the party, though reliable sources in the party scoff at this claim.
The sailing may not be so smooth for him in the BJP either. His arch political rival is former home minister Amit Shah, with whom Amin has been engaged in a bitter battle over GCA’s control amongst other things. Sources in the BJP reveal Amin opened dialogue with former revenue minister Anandiben a few weeks ago (Amit Shah’s arch rival in BJP), and expectedly, she is not averse to absorbing Amin. However, when Amin met Narendra Modi last Friday, the latter was reportedly not warmly welcoming.
Several buzz doing the rounds – one of BJP offering Amin virtual control of GCA, if not making him the formal head. Another is that he might join Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party. A BJP leader believes the deep shade of saffron is the better option for Amin.
“For whatever it is worth, Modi will not let Amin join GPP as it would further strengthen Keshubhai’s Patel votebank. Amit Shah is likely to shift to Delhi for a plum post by February next year when the national BJP undergoes an overhaul. Amin will be kept busy in Gujarat politics. Besides, some of Amin’s loyalists are a promising lot, who will definitely see a better political future in BJP than GPP,’ the leader observed.