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Perils of wielding willow on the streets

Antics of Akash Vijayvargiya with the cricket bat on the streets of Indore have brought fresh troubles for his father, Kailash, who is known in MP political circles as BJP’s bahubali


Most BJP watchers started knowing Kailash Vijayvargiya a little better only after the BJP’s eye-popping performance in the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal this year. But a far bigger number of Indians now know the high-profile BJP general secretary pretty well following his MLA son Akash’s grand batting performance in the streets of Indore and also for the arrogant way the senior BJP leader defended his son on TV channels and in media.

Akash, 34, is a first-time MLA and new to the historic and cosmopolitan city that is law-abiding. It has been represented in the Parliament for 30 long years by a sober, educated and honest Sumitra Mahajan. He is new to politics as well, but has suddenly become a household name for what he did to a municipal officer who had gone to remove a dilapidated house as a member of the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) removal squad.

BJP MLA assaults official

The MLA not only vehemently protested the IMC action of demolishing the building, he with his rabble-rousing followers in toe, physically beat up an employee, Dharmendra Bias, using a cricket bat and then manhandled him and heckled other officials while pushing them out of the Ganji Compound, a bustling area of Indore even as a posse of police force looked on. The incident took place on 26th June in his constituency and instantly catapulted the BJP MLA into the stardom. It also embarrassed BJP no end though for reasons unknown, the Indore BJP tried to stage a demonstration in support of the errant MLA. Even the Mayor participated in the protest dharna.

The police and IMC top administration swung into action and put Akash behind the bars the same day following a court order that awarded 14 days of judicial custody. His supporters continued to create problems for the BJP-ruled IMC for days. They even put up posters and took out large advertisements in the city ‘saluting’ Akash for what was a clear case of taking law into his hands. IMC commissioner Asheesh Singh, rather quickly, dismissed the services of a number of IMC officials, who were found supporting Akash when he was assaulting officers on government duty. Many of them were reportedly recruited by the IMC when Kailash was the Mayor between 1999 and 2004.

His supporters continued to create problems for the BJP-ruled IMC for days. They even put up posters and large advertisements in the city ‘saluting’ Akash for what was a clear case of taking law into his hands

CURIOUSLY enough, the Indore Mayor, Malini Gaud, is also a senior BJP leader and a sitting MLA. Though her MLA husband Lakshman Singh was Kailash’s friend, after his sudden accidental death a few years ago, she and Kailash do not see eye-to-eye in city politics, because Kailash camp counsellors in the IMC do not allow the Mayor and her officers to work freely and legally. The shocking incident has further divided the BJP factions sharply with the Congress taking pot shots at Kailash and his son.

Indore has been a BJP citadel where there was a time when the MP, all eight MLAs and the municipal corporation belonged to the saffron party. Once a Jansangh bastion, Indore saw mighty Union Minister PC Sethi losing to a young Sumitra Mahajan in 1989. Since then Indore has seen the BJP flag fluttering high election after election.

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It is the same cultured city of the Malwa region of MP where Kailash Vijayvargiya is now the uncrowned king after BJP surprisingly rested LS Speaker Mahajan and gave parliament ticket to a much junior Shankar Lalwani, a follower of former CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan. This changed the balance in city politics completely.

Kailash, 63, has grown from strength-to-strength in BJP and has left behind his modest background of a small trader in a once backward locality of Nandanagar of Indore. Those who have seen him on a two-wheeler moped and as a simple, hard working BJP worker in the mid-80s, with strong links with the RSS and ABVP, can’t believe he has grown so menacingly powerful.

He now symbolises the true image of an Indian bahubali politician, despite being in a “party with a difference”. Full of arrogance, he patronises the anti-social elements, land grabbers and goons wearing various masks. The six-time MLA, cabinet minister for a decade and a one-time Mayor (1999-2004) of a cash-rich municipal corporation, is easily the most resourceful BJP leader in MP today. Discerning readers would easily understand what it means to be a “mightily resourceful leader” in Indian politics, especially in the new BJP under Amit Shah.

“The fact that he was picked by BJP leadership, first for Haryana Assembly elections to take on a mighty BS Hooda of Congress and then pitted against cantankerous Mamta Banerjee in WB was purely to use his abundant muscle and money power,” a top BJP functionary told gfiles on condition of anonymity. Vijayvargiya was BJP’s reply to TMC’s terror tactics during the most violent polls in the eastern state in May this year where he performed well and got even closer to the party supremo. It was Shah who had made him the national general secretary after all his efforts failed in MP to become the CM— a hope he desperately cherishes.

Kailash, who enjoys a large following in Indore, has always been a very ambitious and shrewd politician. In his 35-year long and checkered career, he never really saw a downturn, strictly speaking. Yes, when his friend-turned-political foe Chauhan attempted to cut him to size during the former’s 13-year long tenure as Chief Minister, Kailash got little nervous. But he never accepted Chauhan as his leader.

A humble and more adroit Chauhan always avoided direct confrontation with the Indore politician, who has had the right connections in Delhi but the CM succeeded in elbowing him out of MP four years ago. In 2018, Kailash did not fight the assembly elections but got Akash the coveted constituency No. 3 of Indore, despite steep opposition from within the BJP. Akash narrowly won, but the PM was reportedly upset with the dynastic politics of BJP.

Later, Shah was reportedly heard commenting that due to Kailash’s efforts to ensure victory for his son, and in turn save his image, the party suffered huge losses in the Malwa-Nimar region that has 65 seats. Kailash was expected to campaign there, which he did not. Congress won from a majority of them in December last year and formed Government after 15 years. Even PM Modi expressed his anguish at a party meeting in Delhi that Kailash batted for his son’s ticket at a time BJP was busy attacking Gandhis for dynasty politics.

Kailash is not considered a popular leader, but one whose image is a fairly tainted one. He could not throw his net far and wide in MP, and largely remained a leader of Indore, unlike his bête noire Chauhan, who has been very popular. But he always cultivated senior leadership of the BJP and RSS, thanks to his access to unlimited resources.

Known for changing loyalties frequently, he was once close to Sumitra Mahajan but later turned into her sworn enemy. Tried his level best to defeat her in 2009 LS polls by indirectly supporting the Congress candidate but BJP did not take any action against him. He was close to Uma Bharti and became a minister in her cabinet in 2003-04. After she reigned, he quickly inched closer to Babulal Gaur, Uma’s successor, and got a cabinet berth. Later, when Chauhan became CM in 2005, Kailash was there again grabbing important portfolios such as industries, urban affairs and PWD.

PROBLEM with Kailash, the politician, is that not many in BJP trust him completely. First, he is highly ambitious and can go to any extent to achieve his own ends at the cost of others. Second, he is very arrogant, yet, party leaders use him nonetheless.

A section within the BJP believes that behind exposing the Vyapam scam that embroiled Chauhan and dented his image very badly, it was Kailash’s brain at work. He wanted to unseat Chauhan and worked hard for it, though in vain. Thanks to his own scams (none have been proved in the courts) such as pension scam, land grabbing charges etc, that the BJP leadership has always been wary of him. Let alone CM, he was not even seriously considered good enough for state BJP presidentship.

He (Kailash) now symbolises the true image of an Indian bahubali politician, despite being in a “party with a difference”. Full of arrogance, he reportedly patronises the anti-social elements, land grabbers and goons wearing various masks

His haughty behaviour is also said to be one of the factors, besides the company of party workers he keeps and promotes in Indore. A large number of dubious people and the city’s riff-raff are his staunch followers. BJP insiders say he had taken a large number of goons, history-sheeters to fan out in West Bengal and also pumped in a lot of his own resources and money to make inroads for the BJP. Shah’s liking for him thus grew further. But still he was not considered for party’s national working president, a post given on a platter to a more trustworthy and low profile JP Nadda. But Kailash’s proximity the all-powerful Shah is too well known in the BJP.

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After Akash was jailed for assaulting a government official, Congress leaders were quick to point out to his father who had done an almost similar thing 25 years ago when he took off his right shoe to hit an IPS officer on duty in Indore. But Digvijay Singh, known to be always friendly with Vijayvargiya, did not initiate any action as CM then. The officer, however, denied that such a thing had ever happened. Soon a picture went viral on Social Media, clearly showing the offensive manner in which politics is practiced by the Vijayvargiyas. Many years ago, a section of BJP goons owing allegiance to him had attacked and ransacked the office of Hindustan Times because the paper had reported some issue of the IMC, which was critical of him as the Mayor. Senior party leaders had seriously hauled him up for that.

Even as Kailash was basking in the glory of his personal success in Bengal, his son found himself in jail and landed his father in serious trouble. Media has been hugely critical of his utterances. People believe that this lawful action against Akash would not have been possible, but for the Congress government in MP now. No MP leader or officer had guts to send his son behind the bars despite such a serious crime. That is his clout.

ONE would have to wait and see if the Modi-Shah duo still continues to extend their patronage to Vijayvargiya father-son or take some action. There has been talk of the PM being unhappy because ‘batting’ by Akash in Indore did not exactly bring laurels to the BJP, if anything, it has brought plenty of brickbats, especially, because only a month ago Modi, in his typical style, lectured the newly elected people’s representatives in the Central Hall of the Parliament how to behave in public. In his wildest dreams, Modi might not have thought of an MLA using a cricket bat against a government official.

Perhaps, inexperienced Akash had not seen or heard Modi’s sermon on TV. Or else, he would not have done that, saving his father from the ignominy he suffered on Social Media. There is an old saying: person gets what he deserves. This adage was used by PV Narasimha Rao when he was denied a Lok Sabha ticket by Sitaram Kesri after having served as the PM for five years.

Will it apply to Kailash with disciplinarian Modi at the top of BJP? Only time will tell.

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