Sunday, October 16, 2016

Shri Vajubhai Special

Shri Vajubhai Special

I met Shri Vajubhai on 12 October 2016 at Circuit House Annexe Ahmedabad. He was as usual, talkative and in cheerful mood. You look very healthy at this age (80th year), I asked. "Diseases go to the people who use brain. I use legs and hands, therefore, remain in good health." He replied promptly. He started narrating their days of struggles in political life. He went to Sabarmati jail twice. 25 days during Navnirman agitation and 11.5 months under MISA during emergency. Jail was like a picnic spot for him. As detenues, they had less restrictions and lot of time to do the activities of free time.

In the first instance of Nabnirman agitation in 1974, he was arrested under Chimanbhai Patel's rule. Popatlal Vyas was one of the detenues. Vajubhai used to tease him, 'lilo Popat marcha khay, kalo Popat hapta khay' (green parrot eats chilly, black parrot eats money). The chapati was very hard and the sabji was too hot. The editor of Jansatta Ramanbhai was also detained. He was unable to break the chapati and eat the hot vegetables. Vajubhai guided him to soak the chapati in water first, then into sabji and then to eat. When he complained the taste of sabji very hot (lot of red chillies), he jokingly told him that he would feel the hotness twice. Once while eating and second time in the morning when he attends the natural call!

He used his jail experience of 25 days of Narnirman in managing food and facilities during MISA detention in 1976. The Jailer and the Doctor were known to him. Whosoever come to meet the detenues, he used to manage the snacks, ganthia, khakhra, farsan, jalebi, khaman, dhokla, jaggery, varieties of pickles, etc, for the inmates. The Doctor used to prescribe extra milk referring acidity to the detenues. They had enough milk to drink and sometime used to make Sarbat by adding rose essence. It was a relaxed life: Lux soap to bath, milk to drink and ganthia-achar to eat in breakfast. Some of them were getting tiffins from home. Their day used to start with dhakka tea, lux bath, good breakfast, followed by sports, yoga, gossips, discussions, speeches, tiffin lunch and dinner, etc. The only problem was in the bed. The cots were made of wood. All the joints of the cot were full of bugs and the air full of mosquitos. Both were ready to attack them in nights. With lot of food to eat, lot of people to chat and lot of bugs and mosquitoes to fight, he put on 9 kg (56 to 65) wight in 11.5 months of jail.

When he was young, the Rajkot Court Judge used to order punishment till arising the Court (TRC), but he used to request to make it for two days so that the fear of jail go away! They had passed through a very tough time in opposition when people used to boycott them, didn't offer even drinking water during village visit. They had to manage water from the aquifers. In one of the instances, the aquifer was urinated by the naughty guys. They had to find another aquifer and continue their struggle to rise in public life.

Shri Narendrabhai knew his nature. Before starting any serious talk in a group, he will tell Vajubhai to keep silence for a while, and say, let us talk serious. Shri Chimanbhai Shukla had briefed him about Vajubhai's nature of sidetracking the issue.

After presenting 16 budgets in Gujarat Assembly as Finance Minister and holding position of Speaker of the Assembly, he is now away from politics and heading the State of Karnataka as Governor. On the very first day of his job, he cleared all pending 38 files. Nothing remains pending with him beyond a day except the legal or constitutional issues. He has established discipline over his staff. He allows them leaves etc, but ensure the punctuality and discipline while on job. He has closed down the exit gate behind the Raj Bhavan and make the entry and exit from the single gate. He has advised the Secretaries to remove the extra chairs from all the offices and tables so that the employees can focus more on their work and talk less.

The assembly seat he held, Rajkot (West) is very lucky. It has given two Chief Ministers and one Governor. After became a CM, Shri Narendrabhai Modi became MLA from this seat (Vajubhai vacated the seat for him). When Shri Narendrabhai moved to Maninagar seat, Vajubhai again became MLA from this seat and became FM, Speaker and the Governor. And the seat vacated by Vajubhai was won by Shri Vijaybhai Rupani, who become the Chief Minister of the State. Rajkot West turned into the luckiest seat of Gujarat Assembly. Or the seat which Vajubhai leaves, become the Centre of Power. Vajubhai, an unique personality of Gujarat politics will be remembered for many years for his outgoing cheerful nature.

Long live Shri Vajubhai.

16 October 2016


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