To contest polls next month on ticket of Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party
In what may be a major embarrassment to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Jagruti Pandya, wife of slain Bharatiya Janata Party leader Haren Pandya, has plunged into electoral battle, seeking “justice” for the murder of her husband.
What is more, she will contest the Assembly polls next month on the ticket of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), floated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s bête noire Keshubhai Patel.
“Justice for Haren,” is my slogan, declared Ms. Pandya here on Thursday, reminding how her family has fought a losing legal battle to get the killers of her husband to book. She will contest the polls from Ahmedabad’s high profile urban constituency of Ellis Bridge that her husband once represented and refused to vacate for Mr. Modi.
It was in the August of 2011 that the Gujarat High Court acquitted all the 12 accused in the murder case for want of evidence and pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation for a botched up investigation. The CBI subsequently challenged the order in the Supreme Court through a special leave petition that is pending.
“I fought a long court battle for 10 years for justice and now I am going to the people’s court. I have a long fight ahead in the court. All these years, I never got support from any leader in the BJP for which my husband laid his life. We never knew we would be stabbed in the back,” said Ms. Pandya.
An archrival of Mr. Modi, former Minister Haren Pandya was hardly in his mid-forties when done to death in March 2003 after a morning walk in Ahmedabad’s plush Law Garden area.
Ever since, his family has been calling it a “political murder” and his father Vitthal Pandya (now dead) went to the extent of blaming Mr. Modi for it. The Pandya family has been seeking a re-investigation into the murder to get the “real killers and conspirators” of Haren Pandya.
The rivalry of Mr. Modi and Haren Pandya dates back to early 2002 when the latter refused to vacate his seat to enable the Chief Minister to contest from there. Mr. Modi was forced to seek his first election – a by-election – from Rajkot II constituency because of this. Later, Mr. Modi stripped Pandya off the Home portfolio to give him Revenue, months before he was denied ticket for the 2002 Assembly elections.
Pandya remained the only challenger — after Keshubhai Patel was eased out —to Mr. Modi in the State BJP.
Ms. Pandya’s entry in the political arena promises a high-voltage, high-sound byte campaign that will keep the entire Ahmedabad city with its 16 seats glued to the television.
“Vote to me is vote to Haren Pandya, who was loved by one and all, I am the shadow of my husband, I am sure the people of Ellis Bridge will pay true homage to Haren Pandya by voting for me,” Ms. Pandya said
The Ellis Bridge constituency has been a pocket borough of the BJP since 1993 irrespective of the candidate and there is little reason it can swing otherwise. But Ms. Pandya will give anxious moments to the BJP during the campaign for the party will have little to counter her. So far, the ruling party has been silent to an aggressive campaign against Mr. Modi by the GPP.
Keywords: Gujarat Assembly polls