Vajubhai Vala inviting Yeddyurappa isn't a surprise. Here's why
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's move invitation to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader BS Yeddyurappa for being the chief minister and the grant of 15 days to prove that he has the support of the majority of members of the legislative assembly has raised several eyebrows. But it was expected.
Vala, after all, has a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) lineage. He has been known for toeing the line of the party's central leadership, ignoring individual or groups.
“Yeh to hona hi tha (this was bound to happen),” is what you hear when you bring the topic up with any politically aware Gujarati back home. People who have known him from say Vala has been loyal only to his party and not to his caste or community.
“This can be ascertained from the fact that the Rajkot II seat, which later became Rajkot (West) that he represented right from 1985 onwards until 2012 hardly has any Karadia Rajput strength, the community to which he belongs. He has just been loyal to the BJP leadership.
“At one point of time he was the finance minister in the Cabinet led by former CM Keshubhai Patel and then he acquired the same place in the Cabinet led by Narendra Modi in his avatar of the Gujarat chief minister. The transition in the top leadership never affected him,” pointed out a veteran political analyst based in Rajkot who has seen Vala's journey from a bicycle to a limousine.
Vala was a seven-time MLA who held the record for presenting eighteen budgets in the Gujarat assembly before he went to become the speaker in Gujarat Assembly and the governor of Karnataka.
Before becoming a MLA, Vala had been a corporator and also the mayor of the town and old timers still recall him as the 'Paaniwala Mayor' because the drinking water crisis in Rajkot had eased a bit during his tenure because of the supply coming from Bhadar Dam. Having joined the RSS during his school days, Vajubhai was among the top leaders of the BJP in Saurashtra at the time of its inception along with Keshubhai Patel and Chiman Shukla.
“Vala still leaves no opportunity to come to Rajkot and attend social programmes. He has no qualms in saying that he has been rewarded well by his party for the services rendered by him. He is a qualified lawyer who never practiced,” said the observer.
This is pretty evident as he was duly rewarded for having vacated his seat in 2001 when Modi was looking for a constituency after his anointment as the chief minister. Modi wanted to contest from Ellisbridge constituency in Ahmedabad but former home minister Haren Pandya denied to vacate the seat for him.
It was Vala who vacated the Rajkot (West) seat for him. This seat is known to be the safest BJP seat in Gujarat. From the next election in 2002 that was held in the aftermath of Godhra train-burning incident and the subsequent anti-Muslim pogrom Modi went on to contest successfully thrice from Maninagar seat before he chose to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
But he made it sure that Pandya was denied a ticket from Ellisbridge in 2002. Vala went back to his home turf in 2002, won and came back as the finance minister.
It was after the 2012 Gujarat Assembly polls that he was made the speaker and subsequently sent to Karnataka in 2014. There are many political observers in Gujarat who are convinced that Modi had seen the possibility of a scenario that has emerged in Karnataka and had taken the timely action of sending his 'yes man' as the state governor and Vala according to them definitely has not let his party down.
There are others who point that once Vala was made the governor, it was the rival group led by the current Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani that has established itself in Vala's constituency of Rajkot (West). Rupani won the polls from this seat in the recent polls, As a BJP politician Vala is known as a leader who equated development in rising land prices.
He is known to have a keen interest in the real estate sector. Sources say that the booming of shopping malls and multiplexes in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Vadodara can be dedicated to him because of the easy clearances coming from his revenue ministry that he had along with finance. There are many people who vouch that while even being in Bangaluru, he still keeps a tab on the real estate sector developments in his home state.
Vala is also known for his political one liners and 'crude jokes' that he loves cracking in his native Kathiawadi. He never allowed the assembly sessions in Gujarat to be dull even for a single day both as a minister and as the speaker as his one liners provided enough humour to keep everyone alert.
Coming back to the present scenario in Karnataka, what is visible is a role reversal of sorts between Vala and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda. It was 22 years ago, when Vala was the BJP president in Gujarat and the Union government led by Deve Gowda had dismissed his party’s ministry led by chief minister Suresh Mehta, following unprecedented violence in the Gujarat Assembly.
Now it is Vala holding the strings in Deve Gowda's home turf of Karnataka as the latter's son Kumaraswamy stakes claim to form the government in an alliance with the Congress.
The 'nataka' in Karnataka is definitely not ending soon and Vala will continue to play an important role in how things unfold in the days to come.