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|February 12, 1998||
The master turncoat
Haresh Pandya in Gujarat
Atmaram Patel is the ultimate at his game. There is no one in his league, that's for sure.
So who's this genius? And what, pray, is his game?
Patel, dear folks (shame on you for asking!), is a Gujarati politician, 80 years of age, whose major claim to fame is the number of times he has shifted loyalty. To quote one of his critics, our hero has changed parties 'as many times as he has changed clothes'!
Which, in reality, is not quite true: Patel has changed parties only 12 times.
Very recently he left Shankarsinh Vaghela's Rashtriya Janata Party in a huff, hinted at rejoining the Hindutva brigade, but went and formed an outfit of his own -- namely, the Rashtriya Janata Party (A). Patel has now formed an alliance with the Janata Dal...
Let's take a look at his illustrious politics spanning 45 years:
Patel entered the Congress in 1952, having been adequately inspired by Morarji Desai. Four years later, however, the inspiration gave way to downright desperation and Patel cold quit. To join the Maha Gujarat Janata Parishad. When Gujarat was separated from Bombay he returned to the Congress. In 1975, he entered a regional party called Kishan Majdoor Lopaksha, founded by Chimanbhai Patel.
After the regional experience, Patel went around as an Independent for some time. Then came his Janata Dal Gujarat days which, in its turn, gave way to the BJP era. But Patel soon began to be restless there and just had to quit. So he quit. And took a flying leap into Vaghela's Maha Gujarat Janata Party, in the process getting his kurta and dhoti unclad for him by angry BJP workers as then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee watched sadly from the podium.
When the MGJP was converted into the Rashtriya Janata Party, Patel was a key player. But then, again, dissatisfaction set in...
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