Ahmedabad: For Vitthal Radadia, an influential Patel community strongman who emerged victorious today as the BJP candidate from Porbandar parliamentary constituency in the Gujarat by-polls, life has come full circle.
Radadia began his political career with BJP in 1995. However, he soon left the saffron brigade along with then party leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela and Girish Parmar to form Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP) before the latter merged with Congress. Since 2002, he had contested on Congress ticket.
Despite the Hindutva wave in the state, Radadia managed to win successive elections on Congress tickets due to his `Robinhood-type` image.
He not only won his seats but also managed to make his supporters, including his son, win elections apart from maintaining strong hold on co-operative sector in Rajkot district in Saurashtra.
While Vaghela received plum positions in Congress, including a Cabinet berth in UPA-I, Radadia felt that he was sidelined despite being the strongest party leader in the Saurashtra region.
He was again ignored in the last Union Cabinet reshuffle in 2012.
Meanwhile, Parmar, a leader of Dalit community, rejoined BJP after Congress denied him ticket to contest the last Assembly polls from Danilimda seat in Ahmedabad city.
Radadia was not far from controversies too.
On the intervening night of October 10-11, 2012, he was caught on camera brandishing a gun and threatening employees of a toll plaza who dared him to show his identity card before waiving payment.
The incident, which took place near Karjan on National Highway-8, was caught on CCTV cameras installed outside the toll plaza. The BJP, which raised a huge hue and cry over the incident, had taken potshots at Radadia.Notwithstanding the gun-toting incident, Congress fielded both Radadia and his son Jayesh from Dhoraji and Jetpur seats for the Assembly polls last year.
While the senior Radadiya won by 2,916 votes, his son Jayesh, emerged victorious from Jetpur by more than 18,000 votes. Radadia resigned as Porbandar MP to continue as MLA from Dhoraji.
After being elected to the state legislative assembly, Radadia was expecting that the party would give him the post of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the House.
However, Vaghela was made the LoP, at his expense.
Miffed at constant rebuttals by the party, Radadia, his son Jayesh, along with party supporters resigned as MLA and also from the primary membership of Congress on February 25.
Later, in a grand function in March, both Radadia and Jayesh along with scores of co-operative sector leaders from Saurashta were welcomed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to BJP, the party which had laid the initial foundation of his political career.
And, he repaid the faith BJP had entrusted on him when he contested from Porbandar Lok Sabha seat. Radadia romped home by registering a thumping victory over Congress` Vinu Amipura, winning by more than 1,34,789 votes and, in the process, showed Congress how much they would miss him in Saurashtra.