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‘Dharmsatta’: In Gujarat, ‘encounter specialist’ ex-IPS’s new party promises more Hindutva than BJP

The former Gujarat IPS officer DG Vanzara this week launched his Praja Vijay Party to take on the BJP in the state elections next month, declaring it will contest in all seats.

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New Delhi: Controversial former Gujarat IPS officer DG Vanzara termed himself “a giver and not a beggar” and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of giving “importance to only rajsatta (political reign)” while launching his own Hindutva-based political party in the state that is set to hold assembly elections next month.

The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for almost three decades now.

The 1987-batch police officer, who was dubbed an “encounter specialist” in the wake of extrajudicial murders that took place while he was heading the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad, had — according to a BJP source — “been trying to get a BJP ticket to fight the Gujarat election”.

“He was miffed when the party did not entertain him despite him recently working overtime to consolidate his Hindutva credentials,” said the source.

Vanzara Tuesday launched Praja Vijay Party, which he said would contest in all 182 assembly seats in Gujarat and “would not hesitate in fielding sadhus and religious gurus as they are part of society”.

Speaking to the media, he said that “people of Gujarat do not easily accept a non-Hindutva party. Only a Hindutva party can provide an alternative to the BJP. Today, I want the people of the state and the country to know that ‘Praja Vijay Party’ is a Hindutva party”.

He added that “while the BJP is only giving importance to rajsatta, Praja Vijay Party will give importance to rajsatta along with dharmsatta (religious authority)”.

Vanzara, who was believed to be close to former Gujarat chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Amit Shah, also told the media that he was not “a person to stand in a queue to get an election ticket but one who gave away tickets instead”.

“I am a giver, not a beggar,” he asserted.

A senior BJP leader from Gujarat, however, told ThePrint: “Gujarat has seen only two-party system (Congress and BJP) in the past and there will be no impact of (any) party, whether it’s the AAP, AIMIM or any other, on the electoral prospects of the BJP.”

The fledgling Aam Aadmi Party has this year entered the political fray in Gujarat with much fanfare.

On the Praja Vijay Party, a political observer noted that “such parties often help by splitting votes”.

“Since it is fighting on Hindutva credentials, Praja Vijay Party may create some impact if it fields any strong candidate to dent the BJP,” said the observer, adding that “it’s too early to judge the motives of Vanzara”.

Also read: ‘PM has to look after India. Give us Gujarat’ — AAP seeks Modi’s help to ‘protect his izzat abroad’

Controversial past 

Vanzara came in the spotlight after he was appointed as DCP of the crime branch in Ahmedabad post the Gujarat riots of 2002.

Following a spate of encounters, he was arrested in 2007, along with Rajasthan-cadre officers R.K. Pandian and Dinesh M.N., by the Gujarat Crime Investigation Department (CID) for his alleged involvement in the killings of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kausarbi. He was later also charged with the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and a few others.

Vanzara served a spell in prison from 2007 to 2015 and subsequently got bail. In 2017, he was acquitted in the case of Shaikh, and in 2019, charges against him were dropped in the case of Jahan.

In February 2020, the Gujarat government gave Vanzara — who retired from service in 2014 as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) — a post-retirement promotion to the post of Inspector General (IG), and allowed him pension and other benefits as well.

Pro-Hindutva headliner who fell out with Modi & Shah

While in jail, Vanzara in 2013 resigned from service, accusing the then Modi government in Gujarat of having failed to protect the police officers jailed for “alleged fake encounters”.

In a 10-page resignation letter, he wrote: “Instead of providing an innovative and benevolent leadership for keeping the police force of the state intact, efficient and fighting machine, Amit Shah introduced a much despised British policy of divide and rule coupled with equally dirty policy of ‘use the officers and throw them’ by deliberately spreading disinformation about them.”

He further accused Shah of getting the trial cases “transferred (from Gujarat) to Mumbai to win the 2012 Gujarat election”.

Referring to the PM, Vanzara wrote that he used to adore Modi “like God” but added that “my God could not rise to the occasion under the evil influence of Amit Shah who usurped his eyes and ears and has been successfully misguiding him by converting goats into dogs and dogs into goats since the last 12 years”.

After his acquittal in 2019, Vanzara went back to praising Modi and his work in public.

On the PM’s birthday in September this year, he posted birthday wishes on Twitter, adding that “years ago we dreamed together of bringing Mother India to all power and supreme splendour. The work you are doing well”.

The former IPS officer has also been participating in Hindu religious functions and attending RSS meets. He defended former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during the Prophet controversy, and demanded that India be officially declared a Hindu nation.

At Tuesday’s media interaction and his party’s launch, Vanzara accused the BJP of becoming “inefficient and corrupt because of single-party dominance” in Gujarat.

He further said that had the Congress been an alternative (in Gujarat), there would not have been single-party (BJP) rule in the state for the past 27 years. “Even the AAP cannot become an option for people in Gujarat who want an alternative to the BJP,” Vanzara added.

He told reporters that “in a democracy, there should not be single-party rule. Division of votes must happen…what’s wrong in it?”

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: In Gujarat, BJP tries to woo a generation that doesn’t remember ‘difficult days’ before Modi

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