It was perhaps the last electoral battle for former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel. And he has been defeated emphatically by his confidante turned bête noire Narendra Modi.
Keshubhai first tried to play the ‘I’m victim of Modi’s politics’, then dabbled in tried-and-trusted caste politics game by seeking the support of his community – Leuva Patels, but he failed miserably.
Keshubhai had split with the BJP after his life-ling association and launched his Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) in the hope that he would consolidate the anti-Modi vote; but it seems like he miscalculated the power of Moditva.
Though the GPP was only a debutant in the 2012 Gujarat polls, with just two seats and 4% vote share, the grand old man of Gujarat politics will now have to walk towards the sunset, alone.
While Keshubhai won from the Visavadar constituency in Saurashtra, many of his key candidates lost. Jagrutiben Pandya, the wife of former BJP minister Haren Pandya, who contested from Eillisbridge constituency on a GPP ticket, failed to win the election. Another key GPP candidate Gordhanbhai Zadafia too lost from Gondal.
The future for Keshubhai looks bleak. At 84 years of age, the RSS veteran has probably fought his last election. With the BJP winning a near two-third majority and set to rule Gujarat for another five years, the options for Patel are next to none.
The only thing he can pursue now is to try and build support base for his Gujarat Parivartan Party. He may have lost badly this time around, but with Modi looking set to move to the national scene in 2014, there is a chance for him – and the Congress as well – to fill the gap and emerge a stronger political force in the state.
But the pertinent question here is whether Keshubhai could have avoided the ignominy of having to bow out of the ring defeated?
Clearly there lies a message – it is best to bow out with honour than be pushed out with disgrace. Hope other ‘grand old men’ of Indian politics are listening.