Shaktisinh Gohil - The Congress Charioteer In Gujarat

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Shaktisinh Gohil – The Congress Charioteer In Gujarat

| Updated: June 17, 2024 13:28

If Geniben Thakor is Kush, who stopped the BJP’s Ashwamegh in Gujarat, the Luv has to be Shaktisinh Gohil. The extremely soft-spoken and civilised gentleman among the brazen and crass political class is healing the almost dead Gujarat  Congress to revival—slowly but steadily.

The OG of “most eligible bachelors” in Indian politics, Shaktisinh’s political career speaks of the “valour” that the Rajputs are associated with. Born in 1960 in the erstwhile princely state of Limda, Shaktisinh’s grit can be gauged by the fact that he has remained committed to his political convictions despite being out of power for three decades. 

Shaktisinh used to represent Bhavnagar South constituency in the Gujarat assembly and was a minister in the Gujarat government from 1991 until the rise of Narendra Modi eclipsed all other leaders in 1995.

The Gujarat BJP was confident of repeating its stellar 2019 performance in 2024 too. After all, Gujarat has always been a stronghold of the BJP, with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister both hailing from the state. Even since the Jan Sangh days, Hindutva politics has always found popular support in Gujarat in different forms. 

As the president of the Gujarat Congress, the footprint of Shaktisinh Gohil’s micromanagement was visible everywhere. He efficiently managed the three-way communication involving the high command and the party workers. With the  2024 Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat, Congress seems to have found someone who it was desperately looking for—someone to step in the shoes of the late Ahmed Patel.

 Shaktisinh Gohil passed with flying colours his test as the Chief of Gujarat Congress, a post reduced to a musical chair game in the recent past. Shaktisinh Gohil has undoubtedly brought much-needed gravitas to the post of chief of India’s oldest political party in the state. 

Shaktisinh Gohil became chief of the Gujarat Congress in the era when former chiefs like Arjun Modhvadia, who had a 40-year association with Congress, shifted their loyalty to the BJP overnight. The Gujarat Congress had become an object of public ridicule, with it’s elected representatives nonchalantly donning saffron colours. There was a big question mark on the Congress High Command’s capacity to judge the people when the likes of Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel betrayed the trust and joined the BJP. The importance of Shaktisinh lies in the fact that he has been able to stem the rot in Congress.

The ground-level efforts of Shaktisinh Gohil in this election have reaped rich dividends for the Congress. He prioritised the wishes of local workers in selecting the candidates. He established and managed the booth worker network. More importantly, he briefed the national leaders about the issues to touch, and, more importantly, – issues to not touch, in their speeches.

It is learnt that Shaktisinh Gohil asked around 75 local leaders in each district, asking them to suggest the names of the candidates they wished for along with three reasons substantiating their choice. Not only that, he asked the local leaders to provide reasons if they objected to someone’s candidature. Not only that, Shaktisinh sought the feelings of the party workers to articulate his demand for the national leaders to campaign in the state.

In another first for the Congress, learning to fight elections in a professional manner, Shaktisinh obtained the telephone numbers of two persons close to the candidates selected. He wanted it for an effective, speedy, and direct communication link with the candidate during the campaign who would be too busy to respond to a call himself immediately.

As the Congress Chief, Shaktisinh ensured legal support for all the candidates. It was helpful in thwarting BJP attempts to cancel the forms of more than 15 candidates on technical grounds. The case in Surat, where the BJP won unopposed, remains a black spot, though.

One of the most important factors in the Congress’s being seen as a living force, during this election was the dissemination of it’s election manifesto. Shaktisinh excelled in it. The 31 lakh cards promising  Congress’ guarantees and Congress Nyay reached every nook and corner of the state.

As part of booth management, Shaktisinh arranged for a booth-worker kit complete with an I-Card, pen, pencil, eraser, and calculator. The agents were educated about the functioning of EVMs and the checkpoints to monitor, such as the EVM number, VVPAT number, and control unit.

When Shaktisinh Gohil started, Congress was infested with hidden enemies posing as friends. The case in point is Rohan Gupta, the national spokesperson of the Congress and a Congress IT cell functionary. Immediately after being declared a candidate in the important seat of Ahmedabad East, Rohan Gupta withdrew, causing huge public embarrassment for Congress. Shaktisinh Gohil took the adversity on his side and battled the blow to the morale of the party workers valiantly.

It can be safely said that the hard work during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat has increased the stature of Shaktisinh Gohil within Congress. He proved himself to be an able charioteer when he drove Rajiv Gandhi in an open jeep during his visit to Gujarat in 1989, even 25 years later, by sailing the Congress through muddy waters, plucking at least one of the 26 fully bloomed lotus.

Also Read: Gujarat Congress Prez Gohill Recalls Yatra with Rajiv Gandhi

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