Rajya Sabha win will reinforce Ahmed Patel’s reputation as the Congress’s Chanakya
Although it will boost the morale of Congress workers, but party needs to do much more to dethrone the BJP in either Narendra Modi’s Gujarat or elsewhereanalysis Updated: Aug 09, 2017 14:20 IST
Congress party’s chief strategist Ahmed Patel outwitted and outmanoeuvered BJP president Amit Shah to get re-elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in the wee hours of Wednesday. Congressmen are jubilant, predictably. Minutes after the results were declared, party MP Rajiv Satav tweeted: “This is the beginning of the fall of Modi sarkar. From here, the Congress will grow from strength to strength and unseat the BJP.” Such optimism after winning one Rajya Sabha seat! Call it a case of wishful thinking.
The election exposed big chinks in the Congress’s armour, with one-fourth of its MLAs—14 of 57-- abandoning it barely four months before the assembly elections in Gujarat. Some of the defectors came from the Patidar belt, an influential community whose traditional loyalty to the BJP was said to be suspect after they hit the streets to demand reservation. And they might undermine the opposition party’s attempt to wean the Patidars away from the BJP.
It is certainly a big victory for Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, who would have faced many party snipers had he lost. A win in arguably the most publicised Rajya Sabha election — a grudge contest in which BJP president Amit Shah deployed all resources at his command to ensure his defeat — will re-establish his credentials as the Congress’s Chanakya at a time when the party is preparing for a change of guard. Patel’s fightback, after being pushed to the wall by the saam-daam-dand-bhed strategy of his political rivals, will boost the morale of Congress workers in Gujarat ahead of elections. It might inspire many of his party colleagues to show that they have some fire in their bellies after all. Amid the high drama in Gujarat on Tuesday evening, the Congress Working Committee, the apex decision-making body of the party, was meeting in New Delhi to discuss the attack on Rahul Gandhi’s car in Gujarat. The Congress needs to do much more to dethrone the BJP in either Narendra Modi’s Gujarat or elsewhere.
In hindsight, Ahmed Patel should be thankful to the BJP for creating the hype that it did about the Rajya Sabha election. The ruling party projected it as a title-clash between Shah and Patel-- as if to settle the debate on who is a better strategist. Winning or losing a seat won’t make much difference to the strength of the treasury benches in the Rajya Sabha. Nor would it have a bearing on Shah’s credentials as a master strategist who Modi declared “Man of the Match” in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He is already the most successful BJP president who has expanded the party’s footprint to hitherto uncharted territories for the party.
Had the BJP not turned an otherwise staid Rajya Sabha poll into a test of its prowess and invincibility, not many would have been interested in knowing whether the Congress President’s political secretary got a fifth term in the Upper House of Parliament or not.
But for the inexplicable decision of two rebel Congress MLAs to show their ballot papers to the BJP, which resulted in their disqualification, the BJP president would have come up trumps. For Shah, it was not just a grudge match, claim his party colleagues. The main objective was to demoralise the Congress camp ahead of assembly elections in his home state. As defections from the opposition camp show, he might have attained his objective, though only partially.