Gujarat BJP’s “Love And Compassion” Formula To Calm Rebellion, “Suggested By Amit Shah”

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Union Minister Amit Shah has been attending party events in Gujarat over the past few days.

Ahmedabad:

Rattled by protests and angry statements by leaders denied tickets for the Gujarat assembly elections, the BJP is taking a “love and compassion” approach suggested by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and plans to hold one-on-one discussions with discontented leaders, sources said today.

This comes a day after scores of BJP workers protested at the party’s headquarters, Kamalam, in Gandhinagar over the tickets from some seats. The party has so far announced 160 of 182 candidates, and already dropped 38 MLAs.

“A team of state leaders has been given the job to talk to the disgruntled ones,” said a source in the party.

In power in Gujarat for 27 consecutive years, the party has tried what’s known as TLC — slang for “tender loving care” — in the past few days too. State home minister Harsh Sanghavi sought to speak to at least four rebels but they didn’t oblige.

Now that Amit Shah is in Gujarat — his and PM Narendra Modi’s home state — since Sunday, he has held a high-level meeting with the state’s top leaders to discuss a reconciliation plan. The meeting went on for five hours, sources said.

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Union Minister Amit Shah and Gujarat BJP chief CR Patil at the party office in Gandhinagar.

Amit Shah, it is learnt, said that the rebels have been associated with the BJP family for a long time. “Deal with them with love and compassion,” he’s learnt to have told the state leadership.

One of those angry is six-time MLA Madhubhai Shrivastav, who yesterday said he’ll contest as an Independent and rued having joined the BJP “at Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s insistence” over 20 years ago.

The BJP also faced infighting in Himachal Pradesh — it voted on November 12 — where it had rebels on 21 of the 68 seats. Even PM Modi’s appeal over the phone could not convince one of the rebels to stand down.

In Gujarat, which votes on December 1 and 5, the party has “never seen this kind of resentment”, and it “needs to be dealt with immediately”, said a top leader who asked not to be named.

The party is apparently not taking any chances as the elections are turning out to be a three-way fight this time. While the Congress, which increased its vote share and seats last time, has kept its campaign low-key — it says that’s strategic — the Aam Aadmi Party has held a high-decibel campaign on what it calls “a friendly match” between the two main parties.

In the last assembly polls, in 2017, the BJP won 99 seats and Congress got 77. Defections and resignations from the Congress have since taken the BJP to 111.

The AAP made no impact last time, but has since won again in Delhi and this year in Punjab — the reason why it’s confident of a turnaround in Gujarat.

Votes in both Gujarat and Himachal will be counted on December 8.

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