Flash back to pre-2104 era and most of the countrymen could easily recall the women’s wing of the main opposition that time the Bharatiya Janata Party and its nationwide protests against the Congress-led UPA government, with its top leader, the then leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj in the vanguard.
The BJP held nationwide protests against inflation, corruption, foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, the increase in diesel prices and the BLACK MONEY. The clanks of chattels and kitchen utensils would still echo in the air of Jantar Mantar. Swaraj had called on party members to work for the fall of the government. “After this, our government will come back in power and you will get rid of corruption, inflation and price hike in diesel and petrol prices.”
Swaraj had accused Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi of being insensitive to women trying to run households amid high prices. “This government is raising prices frequently. Prices of petrol and diesel have doubled in UPA’s eight years in power. Needless to say what is happening at all these fronts today – Achche Din ! A delusion !
And now in power, say absolute power, this BJP government is getting a taste of its own medicine, with no control over its foul-mouthed ministers and leaders. The discord is now causing an implosion within the party with a difference. The statements of now-in-opposition parties are not much different from what the BJP used to say when it used to block the House business, citing scams. The drumbeat is the same but the context this time is different.
As the famous Urdu couplet goes:
“Baghban ne de aag jab ashiyaney to mere, jin pa tha takiya wahi patte hawa dene lage.”
When the gardener himself set on fire my abode, the leaves that were meant to provide the cushion for comfort deserted me!
And it has exactly happened today in Gujarat – a state that is taken for granted, the most secure, oldest, reliable and fortified castle of BJP that was supported, by the Patel community. They had stood loyal to BJP since the last Congress fell decades ago. Today, in the BJP chief Amit Shah’s meeting with leaders of the Patidar community in Surat, it all turned into chaos as supporters of Hardik Patel went on a rampage there, chanting his name and vandalizing the furniture.
Amit Shah was in Surat to attend a huge rally by the BJP to honour the new Patel ministers in the government led by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The rally was seen as not only a show of strength by the BJP in the state heading for elections but also a gesture to reconnect with the Patidar community that had been on a collision course with the BJP over their demand for quota in jobs and education.
It was supposed to be felicitation program organized by some Patidar Business Leaders of Surat to show their loyalty to BJP. As soon as Shri Amit Shah came on the stage while Union minister Purshottam Rupala was speaking, the crowds began to chant “Hardik, Hardik” and soon they were breaking chairs. The police was called in and they physically removed the trouble-makers from the venue. Amit Shah could speak for only 6 minutes, by which time, only 20 per cent of the audience remained.
As expected, the BJP leaders accused the Congress of creating trouble. “The programme went on smoothly, only a handful of unruly elements instigated by the Congress tried to disrupt it,” said senior state BJP leader KC Patel.
These are now no more smooth sailing for RSS / BJP in its favorite fortress. Hardik Patel, whose name the crowd was chanting, was the face of the agitation that shook the state for over 40 days last year. At the time, the 23-year-old had challenged the BJP government, saying “If you hurt this community, the government will collapse”. Even in his Facebook post, he had challenged Amit Shah, saying, “I request Amit Shah to stay away from the Patel community’s agitation to get reservation. We will not stop it just because you want it. The agitation will not stop till I am alive. And if you still want to crush the stir by force, then you will have to kill me.”
The moral of the story is: When you oppose, remember it may soon be your turn to propose.
By Naim Naqvi