The BJP has given tickets to close to 55 MLAs from other parties, some of whom are facing charges of corruption. It has justified these inclusions quoting ideologue Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s talks on “integral Humanism” where he approves of the inclusion of “quislings” like Vibhishan by Lord Ram in His fight against Raavan.
One such Vibhishan whose inclusion the party seems to have a tough time justifying is the flamboyant former journalist, political rubble rouser and one of the main accused in the infamous Telgi scam, Anil Gote.
The sitting Dhule City MLA, now contesting on a BJP ticket, has spent four years in jail for his association with stamp paper scam mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi. He was accused of being a close associate of Telgi and having used his political clout to get Telgi his first stamp vending licence. “The allegations were baseless. I spent four years in jail and represented my own case in court. If there was any truth in those claims, I would have been convicted by now,” says Gote, who is out on bail.
His promise to residents of Dhule, located 325 km away from Mumbai, is a wildlife park modelled on Singapore Zoo. “The two main issues for me are undertaking development and tackling unemployment,” says Gote. Residents of Dhule, however, lament his “gradual decline”. “He was not there for the people when riots broke out in 2013. He chose to sit in his house. You hardly get to see him speak in the Assembly,” says local resident Prashant More. Known for his connect with the people, the one-time journalist had forged friendship with politicians like George Fernandes and Gopinath Munde. A win in the 1999 Assembly polls as a Samajwadi Janata Party candidate propelled Gote into the big league.
Gote was instrumental in an attempt to destabilise the government after he tried to split the NCP. From the failure of the coup started the downfall of Gote’s political career with him soon getting arrested in the Telgi scam.