Thursday, November 22, 2012

Keshubhai, A rebel Even At 84

DNA Correspondent

Ahmedabad: 21- 08-12, Daily Eng. News.

On the 10 year wait…

“I never wanted to interfere in anyone’s work. It takes some time for anyone who
comes to power. I gave him that time. Waited for three years,” says Keshu bapa adding
that his busy schedule as a Rajyasabha member did not let him keep track of state
politics. The hurt reflects in his voice.
“After three-four years I realised that this is not the way the BJP should function.
This is an autocratic style of functioning. He (Modi) started sidelining good people –
leaders and party workers. Those who do not obey orders, were axed from the party.
Individuals who can tarnish the image of the party were given ticket for elections,” he
Further stating that after the party, he (Modi) started cheating people. “He started
making false promises, declaring packages which are already party of the budget. This is
cheating. He started playing with the emotions of the people of the state.”
“He than started using government machinery for his personal gains, for
arranging mela, public meeting and all other things. Use of government machinery, for
personal gain, to target himself as larger than life character, is also cheating with the
people,” he said.
“I made several representations to BJP’s central leadership. I have submitted a
memorandum against his style of working and its potential damage. However, my party
leaders did not land their ears to me. I wasn’t left with any choice but to respect demand
of the state’s people. I floated my party for prajadharma,” he said.

On caste politics

Keshubhai, who was once the founding member of Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh
(RSS), Jan Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party, believes that these assembly elections are
going to be contested and voted by the people of the state. “Other than reservation seats
there will not be any seat where caste is going to play an important role. If I field a Patel
candidate, the opposition parties will also follow suit, thus dividing the votes. I don’t
think this is going to play a crucial role,” he said.

On fund & money power

Conceding that neither he nor his party has the dough to fund, unlike others, Patel
said: “Those who believe elections can be won with money are wrong. Why you need
money? This is people’s election,” he says, reiterating that GPP will provide publicity
material, some transport and other infrastructure only.

On support to win polls

Keshubhai is confident that he is getting full support from the public. “You may
have seen public in my rallies or meetings till now. I don’t have active party workers and
also do not have machinery either. People are coming to my rallies as they trust me, I am
raising voice for them against unjust,” he says. After a reflective pause, the veteran adds
philosophically: “I am sensing a wind of change. At this juncture you can not say at what
speed the wind will blow, 20 Km/hr may be 30 or 50… This will be decided only in last
few days before the voting.”

On being Guj's 3rd front

“This is another lie spread by opposition parties. Chinmanbhai Patel failed
because he was voted out of power by the people for trying to suppress students
movement. Shankersinh Vaghela failed as he was seen as a person who destabilised a
stable government without a reason. I am not fighting for any personal gains. I have seen
everything from being a corporator to CM. I am here to fight for people,” he asserted.

On coming to power

“The way I see it, I am sure neither Narendra Modi nor BJP will come to power
after the elections. People are fed up of his style of government. People are also angry
with the Congress with the lacklustre performance of the central government. There are
corruption charges levelled against the UPA-led government, everyday. The scene
therefore looks bright for me,” he says, adding with a smirk, that nothing less than a
majority will satisfy him. “I am the only one who believes that GPP can come to power.
Let us wait and see how it shapes up in the future,” he said, before signing up.

Keshubhai’s war with BJP and Modi is an open secret. To take it further, he has
also floated his own political party – Gujarat Parivartan Party — with the aim to further
his fight against an individual in a party which he dedicatedly served as an active
member for more than six decades.
Describing his bete noire, chief minister Narendra Modi as an autocrat, Patel
stalwart Keshubhai Patel said his party has a fair chance to usher in the change.
“Even Hitler came to power with a democratic process. Then his style of
functioning changed. He tried to suppress people and was hated by the people,” claimed
the former BJP leader, whose shaky hands belie the confidence in his voice.

In an informal tête-à-tête at his Gandhinagar residence, Keshubhai Patel tells
Bhavesh Shah his views on coming assembly elections, why at the age of 84 he dares to
rewrite history and much more. Excerpts.

“I can sense that people want a change in state politics. I am sure Narendra Modi
will not be voted back to power.”