Attention had been drawn earlier in these columns to the curious covert partnership that exists between Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Mr. Ahmed Patel. It was even asked whether this partnership was blessed by Mrs. Gandhi or whether she was losing grip and her close aide Mr. Patel was playing solo politics.
It was recalled earlier that Mr. Ahmed Patel got elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from his home state, Gujarat, because Mr. Modi did not put up a candidate against him. It was also recalled that when the Gujarat government desperately needed the central government to lift the ban on cotton exports it was Mr. Ahmed Patel who intervened with the cabinet to help Mr. Modi.
Most recently Ms. Aasifa Khan, spokesperson of the Congress party in Gujarat, a very close confidant of Mr. Ahmed Patel, defected from the Congress to the BJP. Curiously enough she praised Mr. Modi’s role towards the Muslims in the state and at the same time reiterated her admiration for her mentor, Mr. Ahmed Patel. Even more curiously, her defection received no public reprimand from her former mentor, Mr. Ahmed Patel. These mystifying events occurred without intervention by Mrs. Gandhi.
Now the Modi-Ahmed Patel axis is out in the open.
It is exposed through a crude maneuver played by both leaders that will not fool anybody remotely conversant with how politics is played. In his public speeches Mr. Modi is repeatedly daring the Congress to name its chief ministerial candidate and indicating at the same time that it is Mr. Ahmed Patel. Clearly, in the guise of criticizing the Congress he is giving a huge boost to Mr. Patel within the Congress party.
Mr. Modi declared:
“The Congress and its allies have already decided to make Ahmed Patel their chief ministerial candidate. In all likelihood a big deal has also been struck in order to do so. Plans are in place to field Ahmed Patel but the Congress does not have the courage to declare this in public!”
Whether or not the Congress decided to make Mr. Patel its chief ministerial candidate Mr. Modi by his allegation has greatly enhanced Mr. Patel’s importance in public perception and within his party.
It takes two hands to clap of course. Mr. Patel therefore was not wanting. He responded:
“I was never a contender for the post of CM, and will never be. I have always remained away from power politics!”
He described Mr. Modi’s remarks as a sign of dejection and frustration.
What beautiful drama! As both partners slam each other in public they ensure that they remain as the two polarizing leaders in the state. Can partners help each other more? What remains to be seen is of course where this covet partnership will lead to.