Ahmedabad: There has to be more than just ‘kite flying’ that brings union Home Minister Amit Shah twice to Gujarat in the matter of ten days.
Ostensibly there were a string of engagements that dotted his official calendar during his visits but these hardly reveal the complete picture. For the record, the union home minister landed on home turf in the night of January 10, had a string of functions which included a convocation address at the Gujarat Technological University (GTU), launching of a slew of projects in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, an engagement where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani showed him his ‘dashboard’ accomplishments and a sneh-milan with selected representatives of residential housing societies. He left on the morning of January 12.
Shah was back in Gujarat on the night of January 13 and his official engagement showed him celebrating Uttarayana and flying a kite on a terrace of an apartment in a part of Ahmedabad that forms a part of his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
The next day, he was again at Mahatma Mandir to lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Skills (IISS), one of three such institutes to come up in the country.
Shah’s stay in his home state for an extended time at a time when he has a packed plate in the crucial Delhi elections and an overflowing cups of woes in the proliferating nationwide student protests on the CAA-NRC issue is a pointer to the serious business on hand.
While for the record, Shah may have just spent two full working days in the course of his two visits but it is the oil burnt over four nights of brain storming and inter-actions that holds far greater relevance.
A plathora of problems are lined up for the attention of Shah in his home state. Taken together these include the looming Rajya Sabha elections, the contentious issues pertaining to the election/ selection of key office-bearers including the near certain replacement of the state party chief ,the continuing friction between the chief minister and the deputy chief minister and the public spats between BJP leaders including its ministers that is lowering the image of the party besides redressal of causative factors for the setback suffered in the last Assembly by-elections in the state.
Elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat are due in February. Three of these seats are held by the BJP (union minister of state Purshottam Rupala, Lalsinh Varodaria and Chunnibhai Gohil) and one by the Congress (Madhusudan Mistry). As things stand the BJP does not possess the numbers to repeat it’s performance.
The Congress exudes confidence that it will be able to increase its tally to two while the BJP chief is confident of bagging 3 of the four, the number it held earlier. The only way this is possible is through either induced cross-voting or the ‘marketplace’ route. The BJP is not new to it.
Rajya Sabha remains the achilles heal of the ruling BJP where it has had to seek support from non-NDA parties to get crucial legislation through. Its dream of majority here has suffered a setback after it lost out in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand besides a substantially reduced tally in Haryana.
The crucial Assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar notwithstanding, the year 2020 will see elections to 73 seats in the Raja Sabha countrywide with 69 members set to retire(18 from BJP,17 from Congress) and four existing vacancies. A close analysis of the data reveals that the BJP is unlikely to make any substantial gains and, therefore, the desperation.