Gujarat CM Madhavsinh Solanki faces threat from one-time political mentor Jinabhai Darji

first_imgChief minister Madhavsinh Solanki’s troubles never seem to end. Only a few months ago he fought back a determined challenge from Ratubhai Adani, a senior Saurashtra leader who broke away from the Congress (I) and formed the Rashtriya Congress.Now Solanki faces an even more dangerous threat from his one-time political,Chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki’s troubles never seem to end. Only a few months ago he fought back a determined challenge from Ratubhai Adani, a senior Saurashtra leader who broke away from the Congress (I) and formed the Rashtriya Congress.Now Solanki faces an even more dangerous threat from his one-time political mentor Jinabhai Darji, who has launched a series of scathing attacks against the state Government.Darji is no lightweight to be dismissed out of hand. He has a sizeable following in south Gujarat, especially amongst the tribals of the region. He is also a former Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee(I) (GPCC-I) chief and is presently the director of the state’s 20-point programme.His main grouse at the moment appears to be that Solanki is not paying heed to his advice. He has during the last one year written a series of letters to the chief minister which have not been replied to. He also seems to be angling to have more of his supporters in the Cabinet.Shrewd Politician: Apart from the fact that Darji has considerable clout in the state, he is also a shrewd tactician. He knows how to make his protest felt in the Congress (I) without antagonising the high command.For instance, he knows that the high command cannot afford to change Solanki at the moment and he has not even suggested that he should be dismissed. Even when he went to New Delhi to meet Mrs Gandhi he kept his demands moderate saying that he only wanted to ensure a clean administration and that the party should gear up to face the challenge of the coming general elections.advertisementDarji has consistently during the last few weeks maintained that the Congress (I) may fare disastrously in Gujarat at the next elections unless it spruces up its image and clears up the dead wood in the Cabinet.He is on strong grounds in demanding a Cabinet reshuffle as the vacancies created by the death of one minister and the resignations of two others have not been filled for over one year. Besides this, it is common knowledge that the -district Congress committees are thoroughly disorganised and function at best haphazardly.SolankiSays a top party functionary: “One of the weakest areas of the state Congress (I) is its network in the districts. The damage will he enormous if we do not start reorganising them and breathe new life into them.” Darji. apparently, was given a good hearing in New Delhi as he continued to attack the state Government even after his return.Inevitably, Darji’s moves have given heart to the ragtag band of dissidents, who have from time to time raised their standards against Solanki. Soon after his first outburst against the chief minister a group of Congress (I) MP’s in Delhi met Congress (I) leaders to discuss the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. A Harijan MP.Hiralal Parmar, called on Sports Minister Buta Singh to complain about the murder of a Harijan in Mehsana. Another Congressman, Ramjibhai Mavani, wrote to Union Home Minister P.C. Sethi about the “increasing goondaism” in Saurashtra. In his letter he referred to the assault on Popatbhai Soralhia. a former MLA and party leader who was stabbed in Rajkot recently.Five other MP’s Ibrahim Lalaniya, Navinchandra Rawani. Narsinh Makwana, Daulatsinh Jadeja and Mohanbhai Patel – met Pranab Mukherjee to impress upon him that incidents of violence were sullying the image of the party.Soon after this spate of attacks Yogendra Makwana, Union minister of state for agriculture, joined in the chorus against the chief minister. At a general body meeting of the GPCC(I) which called for unity in the party Makwana charged that anyone suspected of even minor differences was sought to be suppressed.Nervousness: In the face of all this, Solanki is desperately trying to be nonchalant about the renewed spate of dissidence. But his nervousness shows with the repeated moves by his supporters to bring about peace between the two leaders. Solanki’s efforts to make peace are all the more conspicuous because Darji has been studiedly ignoring such moves saying that the conflict is over basic principles and that he would not compromise. Solanki however maintains stubbornly, “there is no dissidence. It is just a difference of opinion. We have one of the best run party set-ups and I am not disturbed by periodic outbursts from party members. We have the ability to rectify our mistakes.” This, however, seems doubtful at best.Darji : Fighting for powerCongressmen who know Darji well, maintain that he is not a person to back away from conflict. They point out that he is well known for his outspokeness. Soon after the GPCC(I) met to pass a unity resolution on August 28 Darji wrote the chief minister a stiff letter pointing out his lapses.Darji’s supporters also say that his silence is a tactical move and that he will be starting his anti-Solanki campaign in right earnest very soon. He is said to be gunning for two ministers in particular – Deputy Minister for Finance Harihar Khamboljia and Deputy Minister for Health Kokilabehn Vyas.advertisementDarji adds: “The coming elections will be crucial for the party as weaker sections have become politically conscious. Tribals, Harijans backward classes and minorities comprise 64 per cent of the vote bank in Gujarat. The chief minister should be leaning toward them but he has surrounded himself with capitalists.”There is speculation that Mrs Gandhi is not wholly unfavourable to Darji’s campaign. Back in the days when Mrs Gandhi was out of office, Darji stood by her: two days after her release from jail in December 1978 Darji organised a massive tribal gathering near Surat which she addressed, an event that gained importance since it was depicted as evidence of Mrs Gandhi’s hold on the backward classes.But Darji isn’t obviously pushing his luck. Said he: “I will remain within the party and see that it is set right.”last_img

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