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