Modi-Shah have a tough call to take on Vanzara

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
Nilanjan MukhopadhyayApr 09, 2016 | 15:47

Modi-Shah have a tough call to take on Vanzara

Prisons are incubators of poets, mainly mediocre. Four years into his judicial custody on charges which he felt were more appropriate for his political masters, Dahyaji Gobarji Vanzara, the Indian Police Service officer serving a jail term for allegedly being involved in extra-judicial killings which require a separate piece for detailing, released his first volume of verses titled Sinh Garjana or roar of the lion.


When the book flew off the shelves of bookstores, the cop in detention decided to ride the wave and publish the second volume – Sinh Garjana II. Along with this, Vanzara released another book – Ran Tanjar or Battle Cry. It was clear he had a lot of anger within him. The question was against who was this directed and when would this come out.

It came out in September 2013 just as Narendra Modi, still Gujarat chief minister, was being anointed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate. The anger was vent over ten sheets of blank paper and when the ink dried, it metamorphosed into a politically explosive letter which duplicated as his resignation letter after sixteen years of service.

Modi was his god, till Amit Shah came and took over his eyes and ears, Vanzara claimed dramatically in this letter. But astute political management and adversaries who did not have the capacity to milk the letter caused no setback to the Modi campaign and the bandwagon continued its golden run. It also helped because the "lion" remained jail-bound.

Vanzara roared on Friday and this time not in distant forests but on the banks of the Sabarmati River as its flowed languidly past the riverfront where less than two years ago Modi had serenaded Chinese premier Xi Jingping and his wife. 


The former cop now says he wants to join public life: "I am retired, but not tired. My first inning is over, but my second and most important inning starts from today. Till now, I and other officers (accused) were fielding. Now, the bat is in my hand. I will bat and those who conspired against me and other innocent officers will have to field."

The moot question in the minds of most Gujaratis as they went to sleep and picked up their motions on Saturday, who will the bat swat. The two most powerful Gujaratis in the world will not ponder but shall be strategising how best to ensure that the Vanzara missile does not boomerang on them and destroy their political base.

Modi-Shah's decision duo will determine if Vanzara will be boon or bane for BJP.

Given the fact that Assembly polls are due in November 2017 and that the state government under chief minister Anandiben Patel is not doing anything to win hearts of the electorate, Vanzara’s determination to carve a political niche for himself could not have come at a better time.


Between now and the polls, Amit Shah will have to devise a ploy by which the BJP can minimise the damage that the retired and spited officer can do to the BJP if not try to convert his desire into an opportunity to infuse new life into the divided state unit.

Being Vazara has its advantages. He is from an extremely backward caste community and has personally come up against several odds. Having him as a team member would benefit any political party. The question is the extent of his ambition and the ability of the party to meet.

Moreover, every party shall evaluate if Vanzara’s presence can be counter-productive given the gravity of charges still pending against him. For the moment, the roars that reverberated at the airport when he stepped free on Gujarat’s streets after nine years and when he was facilitated at Ahmedabad’s Town Hall, suggested that Gujarat was witnessing the return of the Hindu Hriday Samrat in another garb. The chanting of "Bharat Mata ki jai" to greet created a din which the BJP can hardly ignore.

Vanzara has other advantages too which political parties will find tough to ignore, especially someone like Amit Shah who used his abilities once. He was among those police officers who believed that having a good hold over the underworld was essential for success in his job. Because ties once built in this nether world are not snapped unless by treachery, Vanzara would have lines buzzing by now.

That Gujarat has a very elaborate criminal network is hardly disputed and the bootlegging network in the state is one of the most elaborate ones in the country. All political leaders are aware of this and would be wary of the political capital that Vanzara can bring to or deploy against them. As his weapon, Vanzara has the lethal combination of the correct caste, immense political ambition woven into a proven formula and the backing of the nether world.

With the BJP floundering because Modi did not build a second level leadership to carry the task after he moved to centre stage, the leadership would be tempted to induct Vanzara forgetting for once that he damned Shah in his resignation letter (but he did not say anything against Modi). But this decision would be accompanied by a grave risk of being pounced upon by the opposition that the BJP is legitimising a person who is tainted and out on bail.

But for a party which previously provided clean chits to tarnished leaders, dishing one out for Vanzara will not be difficult provided this is decided at a political level. This may not be easy because neither Modi nor Shah is known to forgive or forget. The IPS officer would have been on firmer ground had he stayed patient and not stirred up the controversy in 2013 with his resignation.

Still, Vanzara has the ability to be a thorn in the flesh of the BJP but can also act as a trump card for it. Time and the decision of the Modi-Shah duo will determine if the former IPS officer will be boon or bane for the BJP as it begins preparations for the assembly run next year.

Last updated: April 10, 2016 | 13:55
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