The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani springs seat sop at Pandya widow

Ahmedabad, April 1: Haren Pandya’s widow, Jagruti, has been “invited” to join active politics by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, according to a senior BJP leader.

The slain leader’s widow is likely to be offered a post and may be asked to contest from Ellisbridge, the constituency from where her husband had contested successfully in the past, sources in the BJP said.

If she agrees to such a proposal, it would help contain the dissidence within the party and to some extent mollify Pandya’s family members and supporters who are seething with anger, the sources added.

Pandya’s supporters want Bhavin Seth, who inherited the Ellisbridge seat after chief minister Narendra Modi refused to renominate the former home minister from the constituency, to resign and pave the way for Jagruti.

Jagruti, however, said she had no plans to join active politics. “No, I will not,” she said to queries, but asserted that she would “fight to ensure that the culprits who killed my husband are punished”.

But a senior BJP leader feels she will eventually accept the offer if former chief minister Keshubhai Patel asks her to do so. Patel, Pandya’s mentor, is one person the family respects.

After Pandya’s death, Patel had stayed with the family for three days, pacifying the angry supporters and assuring them that he would ensure that the killers do not go unpunished. While this has enhanced Patel’s popularity, Modi has become even more unpopular among a section of the BJP.

It is this section that wants Jagruti to be given an important post or elected from the Ellisbridge seat. Pandya’s supporters insist that this will be the only way the injustice done to the assassinated leader can be undone.

Seth, when contacted, denied that there was any move by the party to make him step down.

“It is just a rumour, nothing else. The party is not contemplating any such move. There is a small section of party workers which is spreading such rumours,” he said but clarified that he would resign if the party asked him to.

The 34-year-old MLA, who is also a municipal corporator — a post he is yet to relinquish — says he is grateful to the former home minister. “He was instrumental in getting me the ticket after he realised that the party would not renominate him,” Seth said.

Asked what he felt about Jagruti’s leadership qualities, Seth refused to comment. “I know that she is a graduate, but I cannot say how she will perform if she decides to take up a political assignment as I have never interacted with her,” he said. But Pandya’s supporters insist that she can deliver.

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