Tanvir A Siddiqui : Mon Sep 10 2012, 00:10 hrsAsaram’s warning
This goes against the popular belief in Gujarat that Chief Minister Narendra Modi is beyond any challenge to his authority. When the challenge came, though, it was not really from an unlikely quarter. Shri Asaram Bapu is already facing an allegation of having physically assaulted a journalist who had posed some inconvenient questions at a satsang in Haryana. It was at the same satsang that he burst out against the Modi government. Following the arrival of news that Gujarat government officials were preventing meetings of his devotees in the Saurashtra region, the furious Asaram said, “If they disturb our men, we will not sit quiet and will uproot the government.” Modi has not yet reacted to the outburst.
One of the most basic of human needs, owning a house, has become a political tool being put to good use by the Congress these days. In election year, it has promised free houses in urban areas and free land in rural areas. This led to serpentine queues outside Congress offices where application forms are handed to whomever has come. The Modi camp sought to counter the Congress bait by ordering the government-owned Gujarat Housing Board to do a quick survey, but the move backfired on the board when it failed to come up with application forms on time. There was a rush to the board office and the police lathi-charged an already disappointed crowd of hopefuls, many of them committed BJP voters.
The Gujarat Parivartan Party formed by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel has completed an eventful first month. The BJP was confident it would face no challenge from the GPP in the elections but the GPP has already shown it cannot be taken lightly. A majority of the BJP members in a civic body in Amreli district of Saurashtra have switched sides to the GPP, which has thus come to power without having to face voters. The party suffered a jolt in south Gujarat with the death of former Union minister Kashiram Rana but has kept up a show of confidence by making various poll promises. Its grassroots base, however, is nowhere compared to those of the BJP and the Congress. But the BJP too faces trouble at the grassroots, with demoralised workers turning against even ministers at public functions.