This Week Gujarat: The face-off that didn’t happenhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/this-week-gujarat-the-faceoff-that-didnt-happen/

This Week Gujarat: The face-off that didn’t happen

For alumni of IIT Gandhinagar and guests,it would have been an opportunity to witness Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Chief Minister Narendra Modi sharing the dais

The face-off that didn’t happen

For alumni of IIT Gandhinagar and guests,it would have been an opportunity to witness Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Chief Minister Narendra Modi sharing the dais. That did not happen as both leaders skipped the ceremony for laying the foundation for a permanent campus for the premier institution. Had they been there together,it would have held out the promise of turning into a face-off over the Akash tablet. Sibal had promised Modi that his ministry would offer the tablet to students at a subsidy. Modi had mentioned the promise at a Teachers’ Day event,saying Akash had not landed on Earth despite the announcement a year ago.

On the dot

For a political event,it was a rare example of punctuality. At a Congress function near Gandhinagar last week,not only did the Maldhari community affiliated with the party arrive on time but senior leaders too began their speeches,for once without even waiting for the media. The event was also wound up on the dot. This was in sharp contrast with an earlier function of the party’s minority wing,with that event having started and ended two hours late. What did not change at the meeting,of course,was a plea to the community to bring the Congress to power and oust Narendra Modi.

Enforcing a bandh

The civic administration bent over backwards to please its BJP bosses in making the NDA’s Bharat bandh a success. Political leaders were out on the street,especially in Maninagar,the constituency Narendra Modi represents in the Assembly,in shutting even medical stores. And officials,instead of seeking police help in maintaining essential services,simply suspended the city bus service because of “apprehensions” of possible damage to the fleet. This came from a civic body that has won national and international acclaim.

Waiting for Sonia

The Gujarat Congress is preparing to roll out the red carpet for Sonia Gandhi. How desperate the party is to have its leader in Gujarat ahead of the elections shows from the fact that state unit president Arjun Modhwadia rushed to Delhi to win a firm promise that she would visit the state. For these elections,the party is banking on popular discontent against Modi’s ministers,and the alleged involvement of BJP leaders in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethava,into which the Gujarat High Cour has ordered a CBI inquiry.