The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pandya father readies to take on Advani

Ahmedabad, March 28: Vitthalbhai Pandya, the father of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya, has decided to take on Lal Krishna Advani in Gandhinagar.

Angry and hurt at the way chief minister Narendra Modi treated his son — denying him a renomination from Ellisbridge, a seat he had won thrice, in the last Assembly elections — as the top leadership looked on, he said: “I’m not going to spare Modi and Advani.”

By contesting against Advani, 76-year-old-Pandya said, he “will be paying tribute to my son”.

Haren Pandya, a former home minister who had fallen out with Modi, was gunned down in a park in March last year. His family had described the murder as political.

Aware of his chances against the deputy Prime Minister, Vitthalbhai said: “Even my defeat will be my biggest moral victory’’.

The senior Pandya never expected justice from Modi — the man he holds responsible for his son’s killing — but he did expect Advani to lend him a sympathetic ear. But he (Advani) turned out to be another “thick-skinned man”, Vitthalbhai said. “Or maybe he just does not want to antagonise Modi.”

So the father has decided to raise uncomfortable questions that Advani will find difficult to answer when he arrives to campaign in his constituency.

But before Advani hits the campaign trail, Vitthalbhai intends to stop his bus when the Bharat Uday yatra rolls into Ahmedabad. “I am going to confront him. I do not care for consequences. I might die any moment. But I will continue to fight.”

An RSS man all along, he is now ready to take support from the Congress to battle the BJP. But the party, which handpicked him to unfurl the Tricolour at its Independence Day celebrations in Patan to needle Modi, has ruled out backing him. “We will have our own candidate,” said Congress leader Siddharth Patel.

That is no deterrent for Vitthalbhai, who is determined to file his papers as an Independent if no party supports him. “I am not going to backtrack. I’m firm on my decision which is irreversible. As it is, I’m leading a lone battle for justice,” he said, showing a thick file of letters written to the President and the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission to convince them that his son’s murder was political.

Claiming he is not over-awed by Advani, the father said the goodwill of the people is with him. “Even some BJP workers might support me.’’

At a condolence meeting last year, in the presence of Modi, the senior Pandya had lashed out at the chief minister, calling him his son’s killer.

Even Advani had admitted that it was a mistake to deny Haren Pandya a ticket from Ellisbridge, which falls in his Lok Sabha constituency.

But Vitthalbhai was rudely jolted when he was not allowed to meet the deputy Prime Minister during his stay in the city.

“I sent my request to meet him, but apparently my slip was never given to Advani. His staff and BJP functionaries ensured that I do not meet Advani.”

When contacted, Gandhinagar district BJP media convener Mayur Vyas rebutted the allegations, claiming that the slain leader’s father is “tarnishing his own reputation” and insisting his candidature would cause no embarrassment to his party.

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