Karma for 1996? Vajubhai Vala Was at Receiving End of Deve Gowda Engineered Coup in Gujarat

The Governor has to satisfy himself that the leader can secure majority. It is not that the Governor has absolute discretion and he can pick up someone from the street, make him a CM and ask him to prove it later.

Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, whose decision to invite BJP to form the government in Karnataka has come under fire, is a former Gujarat BJP leader.

It is interesting to note that Vala once vacated his Rajkot seat for Narendra Modi in 2002 and later also served as Gujarat Finance Minister in Chief Minister Modi’s cabinet.

There is another interesting episode Vajubhai is unlikely to forget.

In 1996, Gujarat BJP Government was dismissed by the President on the advice of the PM. Then Gujarat CM Shankar Sinh Vaghela split the BJP to form the government with the backing of Congress. Interestingly, the name of the BJP state unit head was Vajubhai Vala and the PM was HD Deve Gowda.

The tables seemed to have turned completely and on Thursday it was Vajubhai whose decision it was who forms the Karnataka government.

Rajkot in Gujarat had been a Congress stronghold. But in 1985, the newly-formed BJP wrested this seat from the Grand Old Party. Since then, the BJP has not lost here. The last time Congress won this seat was back in the year 1980 when Manibhai Ranpara won after polling 19,755 votes. Vajubhai Vala, who was the BJP candidate, was not so far behind with 17,762 votes. In the 1984 elections, Vala finally won the seat by beating Congress candidate Harshdaba Chudasa. Vala remained the MLA from Rajkot West till the year 2002 when he vacated the seat for BJP’s CM-designate Narendra Modi. The future PM won the election from Rajkot West after polling 45,298 votes. His opponent, Congress leader Ashwini Maheta polled 30,570 votes in the bypoll.

For the 2002 Assembly polls, Modi moved to contest from the Maninagar seat and Vala was back to contesting from Rajkot West. He won the seat three more times in 2002, 2007 and 2012 and even served as the Finance Minister of Gujarat under Modi.

When the BJP formed the government at the Centre in 2014 and Modi finally ascended the high seat in Delhi, Vala was rewarded for keeping the BJP fortress intact and was made the Governor of Karnataka. In the 2014 bypoll, the seat was then passed on to Vijay Rupani, who won the seat by polling 81,092 votes. He beat his Congress opponent Jayanti Kalriya, a patidar, by over 23,000 votes. In August 2016, when Chief Minister Anandiben Patel resigned, Rupani was elevated to CM. Rupani retained the seat against his opponent, Indranil Rajyaguru, in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls.