Gordhan Zadaphia, who was Gujarat Minister of State for Home in 2002 when the state witnessed the worst communal riots, wants to “put the past behind” as he gears up for his new political assignment as the BJP man in-charge of the party’s electioneering in Uttar Pradesh for the next Lok Sabha elections, due in few months.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Zadaphia, who had returned to the BJP just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections after spending nearly a decade out of the party, said that the new assignment reflects the party leadership’s trust in him. “It is their (party leadership) trust in me. Nothing else…My job is that of a party worker, and achieve success for the party.”
Zadaphia, a Leuva Patel, said the decision to appoint him in-charge of UP along with two others, was made “by Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the (BJP) high command”.
The crucial political assignment to Zadaphia by BJP chief Amit Shah comes at a time when the RSS has sidelined former VHP leader Pravin Togadia who he was close to; and former CM Keshubhai Patel, in whose party Zadaphia was general secretary, has retired from active politics.
Zadaphia, who had launch Maha Gujarat Janata Parishad in 2007 to challenge the leadership of the then chief minister Narendra Modi on the ground that “Patidars were being sidelined”, however, asserted that as prime minister, Modi has fulfilled all the promises that he had made in the run-up to the last Lok Sabha elections, and pointed to the completion of the Statue of Unity project to buttress his claim. He also praised Modi for Swachh Bharat, the cleanliness campaign, and “including the poor into the banking system”.
In 2010, Zadaphia was called for testifying before the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which was probing nine riot cases and the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulberg Society massacre. Zakia had named 62 persons, including Modi and Zadaphia, for omission and commission during the riots.
Since his return to the BJP four years ago, Zadaphia was made general secretary of BJP kisan morcha, and was assigned responsibility in Jharkhand Assembly elections. He is at present vice-president of Gujarat unit of the BJP.
The rehabilitation of Zadaphia, who belongs to Bhavnagar, in the BJP was clear when he was given the responsibility of organising the second edition of the Gaurav Yatra ahead of the last year’s Assembly elections in Gujarat. “The organisation is my mother, and I will safeguard it,” he said, refusing to spell out his plan for the BJP in UP.