Skip to main content

The indispensable Bhai

By Rajiv Shah
He created flutter in May 2004. Attending a rebel BJP meet at a farm house off Gandhinagar, Purshottam Solanki, popularly Bhai among his supporters, called Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi "Hitler". Ironically, even today, Bhai claims he hasn't changed his views. Only, at that time he was on the side of those in the BJP who believed Modi was a bad guy. But now he is with those who say there is no alternative to Modi. A junior minister in the Modi government, I decided to call on Bhai a few days back at his residence in Sector 20 in Gandhinagar. The Gujarat High Court had just directed the state government to decide on sanctioning Bhai's prosecution for his alleged involvement in Rs 400 crore fishing contract scam. I talked to him about the scam. He, obviously, denied any involvement. Then I decided to remind him what had declared once, standing next to Modi's bĂȘte noire ex-CM Keshubhai Patel - that Modi was Hitler.
"What do you have to say of it today? Do you still believe what you had said then?", I asked him, and pat came his reply, "Yes, of course I do. He is still what he was then. I stick to my views." So was he critical of Modi? I wondered. In the second breath he clarified, "Today, I am with Modi. I don't think that those with whom I stood in 2004 will be of any use now." Incoherent and disorganized, minister of state for animal husbandry and fisheries Purshottam Solanki has been at the centre of controversy ever since he was indicted by the Shrikrishna Commission for his involvement in the Mumbai riots of 1993. He shows no signs of regret even today: "I only defended Hindus. What wrong did I do?" He even claims innocence for calling Modi Hitler. He told me: "How do I know who Hitler is? I just referred to him because people think he is sort of stern fellow."
Despite the High Court direction, Modi is reluctant to see this controversial Bhai out of Gujarat's council of ministers. Modi knows, Bhai wants to throw around his clout among the numerically strong community to which he belongs - Kolis - by remaining in power. But without power, he would act as a wounded lion; and Kolis would see him as victim of "bad guy" Modi. "Kolis form 25 per cent of Gujarat's population", Bhai tries to sound influential. "It is for those who want me out of power to decide what will be their fate in the forthcoming state assembly polls", he declares. It was little short of suggesting Modi that needs him more than what he needs Modi. "What does Bhai want? A ministerial chamber and a car with red light blowing atop. He cares little as to who is in power, as he has complete support of the Koli community", an outspoken Bhai supporter tells me.
Majority of Kolis are poor. Most of them work as small fishermen or agricultural workers mainly along the Gujarat sea coast, which is 20 per cent of India. Bhai himself hails from Ghogha, a small town situated on Saurashtra coast. In two previous polls - for Gujarat state assembly in 2007 and Lok Sabha in 2009 - Modi gave him a chopper to hop around different Koli areas and muster support for BJP candidates. In fact, apart from Modi, he was perhaps the only state BJP leader who was given a chopper to campaign. I remember how he refused to go to campaign for BJP candidates till he was provided chopper. "Even Keshubhai Patel had to oblige me with a chopper me before he became chief minister in 1998", he tells me proudly, adding, "There are 35 Koli majority seats out of 182. We (Kolis) want at least 25 of them. This is not a big demand."
In fact, Bhai has declared on several occasions, that Kolis are more important to him that the party to which he belongs. Ask him how many Koli MLAs are with him, and he says, "They are 14 of them", though reluctantly adding, "Eight of them are with BJP, one is independent and the rest are Congress." Bhai's supporters are more vocal. They tell me, "None of the Koli MLAs can win without Bhai support." A supported counted out ministers who would be "defeated", as Bhai has decided not to support them this time because of their "indifference towards Kolis."
With polls approaching, Bhai has begun to overtly demonstrate that he not just remains strong but is indispensable for Modi. "I have organized Koli Sena with eight lakh members", he tells me. The ball is in the Modi camp, he indicates, knowing fully well what ails the chief opposition, Congress. A former mass base of the Congress, Kolis have been rendered directionless ever since top Gandhian Karamshi Makwana died about one-and-a-half decades ago.
Karamsi's brother Shavsi Makwana kept the Gandhian flag high for several years, but today he is unwanted. A former MP, he lived a simple life, travelled by state transport bus. He has just turned 80, and doesn't have money to travel by car to Ahmedabad to attend functions. Simple living and high thinking have been his motto, which he follows to this day. He once regretted to me, "Today among Kolis we have such leaders like Purshottam Solanki, who adopt strong arm tactics to remain in power." Karamsi and Shavsi Makwana established a series of Gandhian Ashram Shalas to educate Koli children. Speaking disdainfully about them, Bhai says, "They had limited influence. They only looked after their family interests", and gleefully adding, "Congress today has not one but four Koli leaders, and all fight among themselves."
---
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/true-lies/the-indispensable-bhai/

Comments

TRENDING

Hold your breath! UK ex-Muslims to celebrate Blasphemy Day on September 30

Soheil Arabi The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), in a suprise move, has decided to observe September 30 as the Blasphemy Day. In an email alert, Maryam Namazie, CEMB spokesperson, has asked anyone interested to join CEMB in celebrating blasphemy by " uploading your photo into our #blasphemyday frame and sharing on social media."

What this veteran Gandhian witnessed at Rajghat is indeed intensely disturbing

Renowned Gandhian, activist and physicist Professor VK Tripathi witnessed an “intensely worrisome” event at the Gandhi Samadhi on his birthday on October 2, 2021. “The children of the Hindutva criminals who assassinated him have captured places which are supposed to keep Gandhiji's heritage alive”, says Deepak Joshi in a Faceook post, insisting, “We should strongly protest against it. It is already too late.”

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled "The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order" criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited: *** The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy. Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationa

International Energy Agency floats new plan to end oil, gas, and coal expansion

In major shift, International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Outlook has mainstreamed 1.5°C pathway, showing need to end oil, gas, and coal expansion, insisting on new fossil fuel phase-out benchmarks in order to test government ambition ahead of COP26. A report by Oil Change International, distributed by BankTrack: *** For the first time, the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s flagship annual report on global energy pathways, used worldwide to influence trillions of dollars in investment, details an achievable roadmap to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). By making a 1.5°C scenario the benchmark of this year’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA challenges governments and companies to back up lagging Paris pledges with immediate action to shift the energy system away from fossil fuels. Notably, this year’s WEO solidifies the policy conclusion, first presented by the IEA in May , that no new oil, gas, and coal extraction projects should be approved under a 1.5°C-

Gujarat cadre woman IAS official who objected to Modi remark on sleeveless blouse

By Rajiv Shah Two days back, a veteran journalist based in Patna, previously with the Times of India, Ahmedabad, phoned me up to inform me that he had a sad news: Swarnakanta Varma, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, who was acting chief secretary on the dastardly Godhra train burning day, February 27, 2002, which triggered one of the worst ever communal riots in Gujarat, has passed away due to Covid. “I have been informed about this from a friend in Jaipur, where she breathed her last”, Law Kumar Mishra said.

Known to have assissinated O'Dwyer, Udham Singh chose not to apologise to the British

Udham Singh (26 December 1899 – 31 July 1940), best known for assassinating Michael O'Dwyer , the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab in India , on 13 March 1940, done in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919, for which O'Dwyer was responsible, was subsequently tried and convicted of murder and hanged in July 1940. While in custody, he used the name Ram Mohammad Singh Azad, which represents the three major religions of India and his anti-colonial sentiment. Writes a well-known analyst, "He too could have apologised. He chose the noose instead!" Udham Singh's speech prior to sentencing in UK: *** “I say down with British Imperialism. You say India do not have peace. We have only slavery Generations of so called civilisation has brought us everything filthy and degenerating. known to the human race. All you have to do is read your own history. If you have any human decency about you, you should die with shame. The brutality and blood

Diaspora protest as Biden failed to publicly address persecution of minorities in India

As Modi addressed UN, human rights groups decried “monstrosity” of persecution of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and other minorities in India. Demonstrators gathered outside UN to protest fascism, hate campaigns, weaponized rape, apartheid, lynchings, unlawful arrests, attacks on the media, and other abuses in India: A report distributed by the diaspora group Hindus for Human Rights: *** While observers said it was “shameful” that President Biden failed to publicly address widespread persecution of religious minorities in India when he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, more than 100 members of interfaith and human rights groups spoke out as Modi addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Speakers condemned the egregious human rights violations and murders of religious minorities in India under a government that openly supports Hindu supremacy. The rally was sponsored by 21 organizations, including Ambedkar International Center, Ambedkar King S

Indian Doctors for Truth want Modi to stop overzealous universal vaccination drive

At a time when there is a huge demand to ensure that vaccination should be universal in order to gain immunity against the pandemic, an organisation called Indian Doctors for Truth, have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the “urgent need to stop the overzealous universal vaccination drive against Covid-19.  Read the letter, signed by 18 doctors and a health expert: ***

Non-entity 6 yrs ago, Indian state turned Fr Stan into world class human rights defender

Jharkhand's Adivasi women  By Rajiv Shah A lot is being written on Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who is known more for his work for tribal rights in Jharkhand. His death at the age of 84, even when he was an under trial prisoner for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence three years go, has, not without reason, evoked sharp reaction, not just in India but across the world.

Ex-official: Why not offer Vaishnaw loss making BSNL, Air India to prove his worth?

By Rajiv Shah A senior chartered accountant, whom I have known intimately (I am not naming him, as I don’t have his permission), has forwarded me an Indian Express (IE) story (July 18), “Ashwini Vaishnaw: The man in the chair”, which, he says, “contradicts” the blog (July 17), "Will Vaishnaw, close to Modi since Vajpayee days, ever be turnaround man for Railways?" I had written a day earlier and forwarded it to many of my friends.