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Enfant terrible? A rebel?

delhi Updated: Jun 26, 2009 23:08 IST
Kumkum Chadha
Kumkum Chadha
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

God bless…touch wood my fish are safe…not dying now.” Bharatsinh Solanki is not only superstitious about fish but also about the stuffed animals he has in his living room. There are dogs of various shapes and sizes, and giraffes flown in from Africa.

There is also a chessboard with animals to play with. That and lots and lots of artificial plants: “Feng shui and vaastu…all in one,” beams Solanki.

That apart, the fish are good company. Solanki watches them and meditates. The stuffed animals, he says, are stress

Fact-o-Meter

Bharatsinh Madhavsinh Solanki (56) is Minister of State for Power

Inspiration: Nehru for his bonding with the people; Ambedkar for his courage; Swami Vivekananda and Rajneesh for their thinking
Ambition: Travel around the world
Wish: Live life to its fullest; empty my bank, leave only Rs 142 to buy wood for my pyre
Love: Red and blue jeans
Fear factor: Loneliness: scared of eating alone
USP: Aggression
Our take: Talks incessantly; can make a mark if he shifts focus from himself
relievers. As for the plants, he seems to have got it mixed up between the lucky bamboos and the artificial flowers. Back home in Anand in Gujarat, when buffaloes block traffic, his sixth sense tells him that it is not his day: “100 out of 99 I am sure shot right.” Ninety-nine times out of 100 that is. His intuition, he claims, has put astrologers to shame. “Adverse planets,” they warned, “Cabinet no chance.” But Solanki made it. Despite mixing up the good luck bamboos and artificial flowers.

If Gujaratis spoke French, they would describe Solanki as enfant terrible. But for now, he is a rebel who made it tough for both his grandfather and father. Solanki’s maternal grandfather, Ishwarsinh Chavda, was an MP for five terms. His father, Madhavsinh Solanki, was four times chief minister of Gujarat and later Union minister. Bharatsinh Solanki launched an agitation against his grandfather, who was then heading the state unit. His grouse: his supporters were kept out. He dismissed his father’s advisers as a “coterie”.

Yet the family legacy has helped him. His appointment as state Congress president was because of his father. Following his political isolation, Madhavsinh Solanki attempted to encash the “Bofors IOU”. For the record, as Union foreign minister, Solanki was accused of handing over a note to the Swiss government seeking a go-slow on the Bofors investigations. He was forced to quit and remained out of circulation. But when it came to his son, he decided to flex muscles. It worked. Despite stiff opposition, Bharatsinh Solanki was rehabilitated: “Caste and family,” says the BJP’s Parshottam Rupali, “Helped him. He is zero…no contribution at all par phir bhi chalta hai.” Still in circulation. The Solankis are Kshatriyas, a formidable force in Anand, which elected Solanki twice. His problem: he’s so busy listening to his own voice it leaves no scope for party workers to have a say.

His personal life has been less rewarding than his political. Married twice, Solanki is now single. This perhaps led his detractors to circulate a controversial sex scandal CD featuring Solanki. “Clearly,” says the Congress’s Siddharth Patel, “an attempt to malign him.” Even the BJP agrees: “False propaganda,” says Rupali.