On Paresh Rawal and Harin Pathak

Editor’s note, Ahmedabad, 20 March 2014

“I’m not going to get my chance in party because I’m Brahmin. If I intend to contest ‘A’ seat, party would say it’s for Kadva Patel, ‘B’ seat, party will say it’s for Leuva Patel, ‘C’ seat, party will say it’s for Kshatriya, ‘D’ seat for Thakor, ‘E’ seat for Koli, ‘F’ reserved for ‘SC’, ‘G’ for ST, ‘H’ deserves Jain candidate, ‘I’ for Ahir candidate…….. This is my chance in nut-shell.”

A Brahmin leader who can afford to open with me told me a few years back. While other castes and groups press for their candidates, the Brahmins look beyond their caste group and are kind and open enough to look for nation’s good and society’s good.

So why Paresh Raval’s name is in discussion for candidature on one Gujarat seat? Well, that’s because Modi doesn’t want Advani loyalist Harin Pathak to continue on Ahmedabad(East) seat. Instead of Pathak, either on Pathak’s seat or on any other seat there has to be one Brahmin candidate. Modi wants to field his loyalist Paresh Raval to do that job.

There are two existing Brahmin Lok Sabha MPs in Gujarat – Harin Pathak and Balkrishna Shukla. While Shukla has been replaced with Narendra Modi as BJP candidate, a decision on Harin Pathak’s Ahmedabad(East) seat is pending.

In BJP’s first list 21 out of total 26 seats are declared. As expected, none of them is Brahmin candidate(Surat based Darshna Jardosh is Brahmin by birth). The pending seats are Ahmedabad(East), Sabarkantha, Panchmahal, Junagadh and Kheda. Barring Sabarkantha and Ahmedad(East) none is likely to see Brahmin candidate. While Ahmedabad(East) is cake walk for BJP, Sabarkantha has Shankersinh Vaghela as Congress candidate. Vaghela is canvasing here for last many weeks. Sabarkantha has sitting BJP MP, but in assembly elections, Congress won majority of seats here.

If Harin Pathak is sacrificed, it is likely that Modi may field some Brahmin candidate. Modi loyalist actor Paresh Rawal fits in this space. The other option could be former Mayor Asit Vora. From voter’s perspective, Harin Pathak is better choice compared to Paresh Rawal and Asit Vora. That’s because Pathak’s office deals with local people very efficiently. His trained and experienced staff is able to easily handle daily visitors and help them.

Will give one example. There’s VIP quota provision in railway reservations. All you need is a recommendation of MP on his/her letter-head. People from Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad(West) and Ahmedabad(East) – all three Lok Sabha constituencies prefer to go to Harin Pathak’s office(which functions in basement of his flat) to have such letter. That’s because Ahmedabad(West)(SC reserve) MP is hardly known to majority of his voters. He is elected purely due to BJP tag. His functioning is not efficient. General people and even many party men can hardly figure out where he lives actually in Ahmedabad! The MP of Gandhinagar(major parts of western side of Ahmedabad are under Gandhinagar seat) Shri L K Advani visits his constituency three-four times a year without night-halt! Has he an efficiently functional office in his constituency even? We have never heard about it! Only person left is Harin Pathak who is approachable, whose office works every morning for needy visitors. Paresh Rawal now owns a flat in Western side of Ahmedabad, but will he be accessible to general public like Pathak? Will he shift his base from Mumbai to Ahmedabad? Perhaps no!

Just to add, if you put it in purely winability perspective, yes any other person on BJP ticket will win Ahmedabad(East) seat, be it Brahmin or not, be it Harin Pathak or Paresh Rawal or anyone else from BJP this time. The question is not winability. Paresh Rawal will bring positive wave to overall election through his presence, speeches and campaign. He is good orator. From election point of view he is good, but for post-election five years period? Well this question is again just as per the voters perspective, and not national perspective. So what is national perspective, and how Paresh Rawal fits in that?

Well, Uttar Pradesh and overall northern Indian belt has good number of Brahmin voters. Brahmins are in capacity to change verdict on several seats in those areas. Paresh Rawal is one of the most famous Brahmins in India. If Rawal is fielded as candidate from any seat, it shall be noticed nationally. Rawal has worked for BJP extensively during Gujarat assembly elections campaign in 2012. His effective campaign in favour of Modi was one of the talking points during Gujarat elections. Recently pro-Congress and pro-Aap twitter handles had created a trend on twitter painting Modi as anti-Brahmin. Modi replacing two Brahmin candidates in Varanasi and Vadodara is also being highlighted by anti-Modi segment of mainstream media in Uttar Pradesh(Amar Ujala newspaper had a report on this) and Delhi(news channel studios discuss it and pseudo intellectual panelists like Siddharth Varadrajan raise this issue). Rawal’s campaign will be covered by media and help in balancing this vicious propaganda. If he becomes BJP candidate, it will be good for party beyond one seat and one state. That may not happen in Harin Pathak’s case.

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