The ruling BJP in Gujarat registered a big gain on Thursday as former Deputy Chief Minister Narhari Amin and more than dozen of his supporters joined the party after snapping their two-decade old ties with the Congress.
All of them had earlier in the week resigned from all posts in the Congress in protest against denial of party nomination to Amin, former CLP leader Naresh Rawal and others. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was to begin his day’s election tour from Keshod in the morning, actually delayed it to personally welcome Amin to the BJP, a privilege not extended to the legislators and others who had joined the ruling party during the last few weeks.
The rousing welcome extended to Amin was certainly not due to his status as a former Deputy Chief Minister two decades back, but because he is a Leuva Patel who can neutralise the effect of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel who has floated the Gujarat Parivartan Party that has emerged as the third force in the electoral arena. Political sources say that Amin’s campaigning, especially in central Gujarat and some parts of Saurashtra where Leuva Patels constitute a sizable section of the electorate, can tilt the balance in favour of the ruling BJP.
Amin and his supporters arrived at the BJP headquarters in the morning in a long motorcade accompanied by drummers sittings pillion on two-wheelers as the supporters burst fire crackers.
Welcoming Amin to the BJP fold by placing a saffron scarf around his neck, Chief Minister Narendra Modi said that the Congress has a tradition of betraying the people who toiled for the party.
Remembering Dr BR Ambedkar on his death anniversary, Modi said that the Congress had similarly tormented the architect of the Constitution too. He said that Ambedkar was awarded the Bharat Ratna only after Rajiv Gandhi got the same. Modi said that Amin’s entry into the BJP would finish the family rule in Gujarat unit of the Congress and democratic traditions would be strengthened.
He said that people generally forgive mistakes but betrayals are not forgiven easily and thus the Congress will have to pay a heavy price for back-stabbing its sincere workers like Amin.
In his acceptance speech among the cheering supporters, Amin said that he took this step due to injustice in Congress which would soon face the fate of winning just 32 seats as in 1990-91 during the time of late Chimanbhai Patel.
Addressing the press later inside the BJP office, Amin appealed to the people to liberally vote for the ruling party. He told the workers to stop bothering about the 2012 assembly elections and instead set their target on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Along with Amin, the other Congressmen who joined the BJP on Thursday include Jamjodhpur MLA Brijrajsinh Jadeja, farmers’ cell chief Dasrath Patel, former Jamnagar Mayor Sanat Mehta, former Ahmedabad Mayor Himmatsinh Patel, spokesmen Jayantilal Parmar, Hitesh Patel ‘Pochi’, office bearers Ashish Amin, NSUI activists Jayesh Patel, Satish Patel and others.