No one is above the compulsions of political balancing, and even Narendra Modi, it appears, is no exception. At a time when he is pitching himself to be projected as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, the Gujarat chief minister has once again inducted two lethal ministers in his cabinet with known criminal backgrounds. This comes at a time when his pitch for national politics is based on development of Gujarat, which is being attributed to his clean image.
On Wednesday morning, Porbandar MLA Babu Bokhiria took oath as a Cabinet minister while Bhavnagar (rural) MLA Parshottam Solanki was administered oath as minister of state in Modi’s new team. Both legislators are seasoned politicians and come to the house after defeating Congress stalwarts Shaktisinh Gohil and Arjun Modhwadia respectively.
Bokhiria has revealed in his affidavit that he has one case pending against him, which includes serious charges of theft. Bokhiria is also an accused in a multi-crore illegal mining scam in the coastal belt of Saurashtra.
Solanki on the other hand is known as ‘bhai’ of Andheri, Mumbai, where he spends most of his time. His affidavit reveals that there are five cases pending against him, in which six serious sections of IPC have been slapped on him. These include dacoity, cheating by personating and forgery. Charges have been framed against Bokhiria in one case and against Solanki in four cases.
After Solanki took oath as minister, he went up to Modi, hugged him and patted him on his back – a very symbolic gesture – considering he was the only minister the CM hugged on stage.
This little scene played out right next to governor Dr Kamala is significant because the latest taint on Solanki is a fisheries scam worth Rs400 crore. The governor’s opinion had been sought by the Gujarat high court in his cases and she had opined in favour of Solanki’s prosecution.
Earlier when asked about his criminal record, Solanki had said there was absolutely no case against him and whatever was there was politically motivated. Besides, he has not been convicted in any case, he pointed out. True enough, both Bokhiria and Solanki have not been convicted in any case – yet.